Wild Flowers of Pittsburgh


Sharp-Winged Monkey-Flower (Mimulus alatus)


KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAn attractive snapdragon-like flower that likes wet locations; this one was growing in a ditch along a country lane near Cranberry, where it was beginning to bloom in late July.

Most botanical references place the genus Mimulus in the Snapdragon family, Scrophulariaceae; but modern genetic studies have persuaded botanists to remove it to the family Phrymaceae, the Lopseed family, which had previously had only one species in it.

Gray’s description of this species depends on his description of M. ringens, so we print that description in brackets:

MÍMULUS L. MONKEY FLOWER. Calyx prismatic, 5-angled, 5-toothed, the uppermost tooth largest. Upper lip of corolla erect or reflexed-spreading, 2-lobed; lower spreading, 3-lobed. Stigma 2-lobed; lobes ovate. Seeds numerous. — Herbs, with opposite (rarely whorled) leaves, and mostly handsome flowers. (Diminutive of mimus, a buffoon, from the grinning corolla.)

Corolla violet-purple (rarely white); erect glabrous perennials; leaves feather-veined.

[M. ríngens L. Stem square, 1 m. or less high; leaves oblong or lanceolate, pointed, clasping by a heart-shaped base, serrate; peduncles longer than the flower; calyx-teeth taper-pointed, nearly equal; corolla personate, 2-4 cm. long. — Wet places, N. B. to Man., and southw. June-Sept.]

M. alàtus Ait. Stem winged at the angles; leaves oblong-ovate, tapering into a petiole; peduncles shorter than the very short-toothed calyx; otherwise like the preceding. — Wet places, Ct. to s. Ont., Kan., and southw.


Silvery Cinquefoil (Potentilla argentea)


Originally from Europe, this little flower joins the herds of little five-petaled flowers in our fields. This plant was growing in a grassy area in Highland Park, where it was blooming in the middle of June.

Gray describes the genus (which is large and varied) and the species:

POTENTÍLLA L. CINQEFOIL. FIVE-FINGER. Calyx flat, deeply 5-cleft, with as many bractlets at the sinuses, thus appearing 10-cleft. Petals 5, usually roundish. Stamens many. Achenes many, collected in a head on the dry mostly pubescent or hairy receptacle; styles lateral or terminal, deciduous. Radicle superior. — Herbs, or rarely shrubs, with compound leaves, and solitary or cymose flowers; their parts rarely in fours. (Name a diminutive from potens, powerful, originally applied to P. Anserina, from its once reputed medicinal powers.)

Styles filiform, not glandular at base; inflorescence cymose.

Style terminal; achenes glabrous; stamens 20; herbaceous perennials, with rather large yellow petals.

Leaves palmate.

Flowers in loose leafy cymes.

P. argéntea L. (SILVERY C.) Stems ascending or depressed, 1-5 dm. long, paniculately branched at the summit, many-flowered, white-woolly; leaf lets 5, wedge-oblong, almost pinnatifid, entire toward the base, with revolute margins, green above, white with silvery wool beneath; calyx white-tomentose. — Dry barren fields, etc., N. S. to Dak. and southw. to D. C. June- Sept. (Eu.)

Yellow Corydalis (Psuedofumaria lutea)


Formerly Corydalis lutea. A relative of Bleeding-Hearts and Dutchman’s Breeches, native to Europe, but gaining a foothold in North America. It is not very common in Pittsburgh, perhaps completely unknown except for this patch, which was growing in the rocks beside a small stream in Frick Park, where it was blooming in late June. We suspect that this plant was deliberately introduced to Frick Park, but it is thriving there.



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