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Common Speedwell (Veronica officinalis)

Veronica officinalis Photographed May 29.

If these were larger, they might be treasured garden flowers. They are found everywhere in our lawns, and they are small enough that it takes a good close look to notice the delicate violet stripes on the flowers. The plant is fuzzy, with oval leaves and rambling stems; it is short enough to pass easily under lawn-mower blades. You can find it blooming from mid-spring through summer; these plants were blooming in West End Park in late May.

Common speedwell

Gray describes the genus and the species:

VERONICA [Tourn.] L. SPEEDWELL The lateral lobes of the corolla or the lowest one commonly narrower than the others. Stamens 2, one each side of the upper lobe of the corolla, exserted; anther-cells confluent at the apex. Style entire; stigma single. Capsule flattened, obtuse or notched at the apex, 2-celled, few-many-seeded. – Chiefly herbs; flowers blue, flesh-color, or white. (Derivation doubtful; perhaps the flower of St. Veronica.)

Corolla wheel-shaped, the tube short; capsule more or less notched, strongly flattened; low or decumbent herbs.

Perennials, stoloniferous or rooting at base, with opposite usually serrate leaves, racemes axillary, mostly opposite; corolla pale blue.

V. officinalis L. (COMMON S.) Pubescent; stem prostrate, rooting at base; leaves short-petioled, obovate-elliptical or wedge-oblong, obtuse, serrate; racemes densely many-flowered; pedicels shorter than the calyx; capsule obovate-triangular, broadly notched. — Dry hills and open woods, Nfd. to Ont., Mich., and southw. May-Aug. (Eurasia.)

Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis)

Hesperis matronalis Photographed May 26.

Dame’s Rocket is one of those garden flowers that have made themselves at home here, and it is hard to object to it very much. The beautiful flowers come in all shades from purple to white, and splashy bicolors are frequent. The genus name Hesperis refers to the evening scent: all day these flowers smell like nothing, but when evening comes they put out a strong and delightful perfume. Some of these flowers were blooming in Bird Park, Mount Lebanon; others along the Seldom Seen Greenway.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

HESPERIS [Tourn.] L. ROCKET. Pod linear, nearly cylindrical; stigma lobed, erect. Seeds in 1 row in each cell, oblong, marginless. Cotyledons incumbent. Biennial or perennial, with serrate sessile or petiolate leaves, and large purple flowers. (Name from hespera, evening, from the evening fragrance of the flowers.)

H. matronalis L. (DAME’S VIOLET.) Tall: leaves lanceolate, acuminate; pods 5-10 cm. long, spreading. Sometimes cultivated, and spreading to roadsides, etc. (Introd. from Eu.)

Dame’s Rocket Photographed May 15.

Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis)

Dicentra canadensis

Squirrel Corn is easily confused with Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), but the shape of the flowers is an infallible marker. These are shaped like the common Bleeding-Hearts of our gardens; they lack the pointed lobes that make Dutchman’s Breeches look like a pair of pantaloons hung out to dry. These were blooming in Fox Chapel near the Trillium Trail at the beginning of May.

Squirrel Corn

Gray describes the genus and the species:

DICÉNTRA Berah. Petals slightly cohering into a heart-shaped or 2-spurred corolla, either deciduous or withering-persistent. Stigma 2-crested and sometimes 2-horned. Filaments slightly united into two sets. Pod 10-20-seeded. Seeds crested. — Low stemless perennials (as to our wild species) with ternately compound and dissected leaves, and racemose nodding flowers. Pedicels 2-bracted. (Name from dis, twice, and kentron, a spur; — accidentally printed Diclytra in the first instance, which by an erroneous conjecture was changed afterwards into Dielytra.) Bikukulla Adams. Bicuculla Millsp.

Raceme simple, few-flowered.

D. canadensis (Goldie) Walp. (SQUIRREL CORN.) Subterranean shoots bearing scattered grain-tike tubers (resembling peas or grains of Indian corn, yellow); leaves as in no. 1 [Dutchman’s Breeches, D. cucullaria]; corolla merely heart-shaped, the spurs very short and rounded; crest of the inner petals conspicuous, projecting. (Bicuculla Millsp.) — Rich woods, N. S. to Ont. and Minn., s. to Va., Ky., and Mo. Apr., May. — Flowers greenish white tinged with rose, with the fragrance of hyacinths.

Great White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) Fading to Pink

Trillium grandiflorum fading to pink

As Great White Trilliums age, they tend to take on rosy hues. We should all age so gracefully. This is what some of the trilliums on the Trillium Trail looked like in the middle of May, late in their season.

Great White Trillium fading to pink

Trillium grandiflorum, pink

Trillium grandiflorum, pink

Gray describes the genus and the species:

TRÍLLIUM L. WAKE ROBIN. BIRTHROOT. Sepals 3, lanceolate, spreading, herbaceous, persistent. Petals 3, larger, withering in age. Stamens б; anthers linear, on short filaments, adnate. Styles awl-shaped or slender, spreading or recurved above, persistent, stigmatic down the inner side. Seeds ovate, horizontal, several in each cell. — Low perennial herbs, with a stout and simple stem rising from a short and praemorse tuber-like rootstock, bearing at the summit a whorl of 3 ample, commonly broadly ovate, more or less ribbed but netted-veined leaves, and a terminal large flower; in spring. (Name from tree, three; all the parts being in threes.) — Monstrosities are not rare with the calyx and sometimes petals changed to leaves, or the parts of the flower increased in number.

T. grandiflorum (Michx.) Salisb. Leaves less broadly rhombic-ovate; pedicel erect or ascending; petals oblanceolate, often broadly so (4-6 cm. long), white turning rose-color or marked with green; stamens with stout filaments (persistently green about the fruit) and anthers, exceeding the very slender erect or suberect and somewhat coherent stigmas; fruit subglobose. Rich woods, w. Que. and w. Vt. to Minn., Mo., and N. C.