Wild Flowers of Pittsburgh


Soft Agrimony (Agrimonia pubescens)


Agrimonies are notoriously difficult to sort out, so we would welcome a correction if this identification is wrong.

These delicate racemes of yellow flowers appear in the open woods, and you are likely to miss them if you are not looking for them. The plants in these pictures were blooming in North Park in early August.

Older references usually list this as Agrimonia mollis, a synonym. Gray describes the genus and the species:

AGRIMONIA [Tourn.] L. AGRIMONY. Calyx-tube top-shaped or hemispherical, the throat beset with hooked bristles, indurated in fruit and inclosing 2 achenes; the limb 5-cleft, closed after flowering. Petals 5, yellow. Stamens 5-15. Styles terminal. — Perennial herbs, with interruptedly pinnate leaves, crenate-serrate leaflets, and small spicate-racemose flowers. Bracts 3-cleft. (Name a corruption of Argemone.)

Fruiting calyx more or less top-shaped, deeply furrowed.

Leaflets (exclusive of the little intermediate ones) chiefly 5-0, ovate to obovate or elllptic-oblong.

Rhachis appressed-vlllous or glandular-puberulent, without long widely spreading hairs.

Boots fusiform-thickened toward the end; lower surface of leaflets velvety-tomentose, scarcely or not at all resinous-dotted.

Larger leaflets 5-9, oblong or elliptical; fruiting calyx 4-5 mm. wide (exclusive of spreading hooks).

A. mollis (T. & G.) Britton. Grayish-pubescent, 6-15 dm. high; leaflets oblong, mostly obtuse, soft to the touch on both surfaces; fruit broadly top-shaped, the hooks borne on a broad disk, the outer widely spreading. (A. pubescens Wallr.?) — Open woods, dry ground, etc., Mass. to N. C, and westw.



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.)

Crabapple (Malus coronaria)


Crabapple blossoms light up the woods around here before the leaves appear on most of the trees. These trees were blooming in late April near the edge of the woods in Mount Lebanon. More Crabapple pictures are here.


Gray places the genus Malus as a section in the larger genus Pyrus, but most modern botanists treat Malus separately. Gray’s description:

PYRUS [Tourn.] L. Calyx-like receptacle urn-shaped, bearing б sepals. Petals roundish or obovate. Stamens numerous. Styles 2-5. Fruit a large fleshy pome, or smaller and berry-like, the 2-6 cells imbedded in the flesh, papery or cartilaginous, mostly 2-seeded. —Trees or shrubs, with showy flowers in corymbed or umbellike cymes. (The classical name of the Pear-tree.) A large genus, often subdivided, but with sections less strongly or constantly marked than our few species would suggest.

MALUS (Hill) S. F. Gray. (APPLE.) Leaves simple; orifice of concave receptacle open; flesh of large subglobular fruit copious, free from sclerotic cells. Malus [Tourn.] Hill.

Leaves and usually the outer surface of the calyx-lobes glabrate.

Calyx-lobes persistent in fruit.

P. coronaria L. (AMERICAN CRAB.) Tree, somewhat armed, 6-10 m. high; leaves ovate or elliptic, usually rounded or even cordate at the base; those of the sterile shoots somewhat triangular-ovate and lobed, sharply serrate; petals broadly obovate, white or nearly so; pome greenish-yellow, hard and sour, 2-2.6 cm. in diameter, depressed-globose. (Malus Mill.) — Thickets and open woods, N. J. to Ont., Kan., and southw.


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