Wild Flowers of Pittsburgh


Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

Also known as Dogtooth Violet or Adder’s Tongue, this very attractive plant is as remarkable for its mottled leaves as for its yellow flowers. It likes wooded stream valleys where the soil is very rich and moist. These plants were blooming in the middle of April in the Squaw Run valley, Fox Chapel.

Gray describes the genus and the species:


Perianth lily-like, of 6 lanceolate recurved or spreading divisions, deciduous, the 3 inner usually with a callous tooth on each side of the base, and a groove in the middle. Filaments 6, awl-shaped; anthers oblong-linear. Style elongated. Capsule obovoid, contracted at base, 3-valved, loculicidal. Seeds rather numerous. Nearly stemless herbs, with two smooth and shining flat leaves tapering into petioles and sheathing the base of the commonly one-flowered scape, rising from a deep solid scaly bulb. Flowers rather large, nodding, in spring. (The Greek name for the purple-flowered European species, from erythros, red. )

E. americanum Ker. (YELLOW ADDER’S-TONGUE). Scape 1.5-2 dm. high; leaves elliptical-lanceolate, pale green, mottled with purplish and whitish and often minutely dotted; perianth light yellow, often spotted near the base (2-4 cm. long); style club-shaped; stigmas united. Rich ground, N. B. to Fla. , w. to Out. and Ark.

Bloody Butcher (Trillium recurvatum)


We must admit that we have no idea what this plant is doing here. We had first identified this as Trillium sessile, but Mr. Scott Namestnik pointed out in a comment that this plant clearly seems to be T. recurvatum. But how did it get here in Bird Park, Mount Lebanon, merrily blooming in mid-May as if it were perfectly at home? Neither Gray nor the USDA PLANTS database places any wild populations of Trillium recurvatum anywhere in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, or even within two hundred miles. It is a prairie-state plant, almost unknown in Ohio, and not common till Indiana, although (oddly) there is apparently an isolated wild population way over in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Is someone attempting to populate Bird Park with unusual wildflowers? Or have we discovered something previously unknown in the botanical literature—another isolated wild population, like the one in Lancaster County?

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, etig matic 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 tres, 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.

Ovary and fruit 6-angled and more or less winged.

Flower sessile; leaves usually mottled.

T. recurvàtum Beck. Leaves contracted at the base into a petiole, ovate, oblong, or obovate; sepals reflexed; petals pointed, the base narrowed into a claw, oblong-lanceolate to -ovate, dark purple; fruit ovoid, strongly winged above, 1.8 cm. long. — Rich woods, O. to Minn., Ark., “Miss.,” and Tenn.

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERALily of the Valley, a favorite ornamental ground cover for shady spots, is a frequent escape from gardens; it may sometimes mark old homesites, as a patch can persist indefinitely. It comes from the Old World, but it is also apparently native (there is some debate) to the Appalachians; if so, however, its native range is well to the south of our area. When we see Lily of the Valley growing in the wild, we may regard it as a guest rather than a resident. These plants were blooming in the middle of May deep in the woods in Bird Park, Mount Lebanon.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

CONVALLÀRIA L. LILY OF THE VALLEY. Perianth bell-shaped, white, with 6 short recurved lobes. Stamens 6, included, inserted on the base of the perianth; anthers introrse. Ovary 3-celled, tapering into a stout style; stigma triangular. Ovules 4-6 in each cell. Berry few-seeded, red. — Perennial herb, glabrous, stemless, with slender running root- stocks, 2 or 3 oblong leaves, and an angled scape bearing a one-sided raceme of sweet-scented nodding flowers. (From Lilium convallium, the popular name.)

С majàlis L. — High mountains, Va. to S. С. — Apparently identical with the European Lily of the Valley of the gardens which occurs as an occasional escape from cultivation elsewhere within our limits.



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