Wild Flowers of Pittsburgh


Johnny Jump-Up

This is the original Pansy, still so called in many places; it is every bit as colorful as our garden pansies, but smaller. It often escapes from plantings, and can occasionally establish itself in sidewalk cracks or vacant lots. Although it is associated with spring, it can bloom occasionally throughout the year; this plant was happily blooming at the beginning of October in a meadow in Schenley Park.

Gray (with revisions by Brainerd) describes the genus and the species:

VIOLA [Tourn.] L. VIOLET. HEART’S-EASE. Petals somewhat unequal, the lower one spurred at the base. Stamens closely surrounding the ovary, often slightly cohering with each other; the two lower bearing spurs which project into the spur of the corolla. Besides these conspicuous blossoms, which appear in spring, others are produced later, on shorter peduncles or on runners, often concealed under the leaves; these never open nor develop petals, but are fertilized in the bud and are far more fruitful than the ordinary blossoms. — The closely allied species of the same section, when growing together, often hybridize with each other, producing forms that are confusing to the student not familiar with the specific types. The hybrids commonly display characters more or less intermediate between those of the parents, and show marked vegetative vigor but greatly impaired fertility. (The ancient Latin name of the genus.)

Plants with leafy stems.

Style much enlarged upward into a globose hollow summit with a wide orifice on the lower side; stipules large, leaf-like, lyrate-pinnatifid.

V. tricolor L. (PANSY, HEART’S-EASE.) Stems angled, 1.5-8 dm. high; lower leaves roundish or cordate, upper oblong, crenate; flowers large and widely spreading, variously marked with yellow, white, and purple; capsules ovoid; seeds brown. — An escape from cultivation, rarely persisting. (Introd. from Eu.)

Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)

Sneezeweed is an attractive composite flower with distinctively notched rays that make it easy to identify. (A similar species, Purple-Headed Sneezeweed, Helenium flexuosum, has been introduced in a few locations; it is easy to distinguish by the dark brownish button in the center.) The plant likes damp areas; this one was growing in Schenley Park, in a section of former lawn that is being allowed to grow into a meadow for better water retention. It was blooming in the middle of September.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

HELÈNIUM L. SNEEZEWEED. Heads many-flowered, radiate; rays several, wedge-shaped, 3-6-cleft, fertile, rarely sterile. Involucre small, reflexed; the bracts linear or awl-shaped. Receptacle globose or ellipsoid. Achenes top-shaped, ribbed; pappus of 6-8 thin 1-nerved chaffy scales, the nerve usually extended into a bristle or point. — Erect branching herbs with alternate leaves, often sprinkled with bitter aromatic resinous globules; heads yellow, rarely purple, terminal, single or corymbed. (The Greek name of some plant, said to be named after Helenus, son of Priam.)

Leaves broad, decurrent on the angled stem.

H. autumnàle L. Perennial, nearly smooth, 0.2-2 m. high; leaves mostly toothed, lanceolate to ovate-oblong; heads larger (2-4 cm. broad); disk yellow; rays fertile, yellow. — Alluvial river-banks and wet ground, w. Que. and w. Mass. to Man., southw. and westw. Aug.-Oct.

Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata)

A delicate-looking plant with Mimosa-like leaves that quickly colonizes recently disturbed or burned areas. These were growing in Schenley Park, in a section of former lawn that is being allowed to grow into a meadow for better water retention. The cheery yellow flowers can keep coming for months; these were blooming in the middle of September.

Gray, like most older references, puts this species in the genus Cassia. Here is his description:

CASSIA [Tourn.] L. SENNA. Sepals 5, scarcely united at base. Petals 5, little unequal, spreading. Stamens 5-10, unequal, and some of them often imperfect, spreading; anthers opening by 2 pores or chinks at the apex. Pod many-seeded, often with croes partitions. — Herbs (in the United States), with simply and abruptly pinnate leaves, and mostly yellow flowers. (An ancient name of obscure derivation.)

Leaflets small, somewhat sensitive to the touch; stipules striate, persistent; a cup-shaped gland beneath the lowest pair of leaflets; anthers all perfect; flowers in small clusters above the axils; pods flat.

C. Chamaecrista L. (PARTRIDGE PEA.) Annual, suberect; branches usually simple, ascending; pubescence subappressed, usually scanty; leaflets 10-15 pairs, linear-oblong, oblique at the base; flowers (large) on slender pedicels, 2 or 3 of the showy yellow petals often with a purple spot at base; anthers 10, elongated, unequal (4 of them yellow, the others purple); style slender. — Sandy fields, Mass. to Minn., and southw., except in the upland regions. July-Sept.