Wild Flowers of Pittsburgh

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St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

The thick wad of stamens in the middle of the flower is characteristic of St. John’s Worts, most of which also have bright yellow flowers. These plants were growing in a clearing in Highland Park, where they were blooming in the middle of June.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

HYPERICUM [Tourn.] L. ST. JOHN’S-WORT. Sepals 5, usually subequal. Petals 5, oblique, convolute in the bud (except in 6). Stamens frequently united or clustered in 3-5 parcels; no interposed glands. Pod 1-celled or 3-5-celled. Seeds usually cylindrical. Herbs or shrubs, with cymose yellow, flesh-colored, or purplish flowers. (An ancient Greek name of obscure meaning.)

H. perforatum L. (COMMON S.) Stem much branched and corymbed, somewhat 2-edged, producing runners from the base; leaves elliptic- or linear-oblong, with pellucid dots; petals deep yellow, black-dotted along the margin, twice the length of the lanceolate acute sepals; flowers numerous, in open leafy cymes. Fields, etc. June-Sept. A pernicious weed, difficult to extirpate; juice very acrid. (Nat. from Eu.)

Crown Vetch (Securigera varia)

Crown Vetch is often planted to control erosion on hillsides; it also escapes freely and makes a nuisance of itself. But the bicolored flowers are pretty.

Gray describes the genus (he places it in Coronilla) and the species:

CORONILLA L. Calyx 5-toothed. Standard orbicular; keel incurved. Stamens diadelphous. 9 and 1. Pod terete or 4-angled, jointed; the joints eubrylindric. — Glabrous herbs or shrubs, with pinnate leaves, and the flowers in umbels terminating axillary peduncles. (Diminutive of corona, a crown, alluding to the inflorescence.)

C. vària L. A perennial herb with ascending stems; leaves sessile; leaf lets 15-25, oblong; flowers rose-color; pods coriaceous, 3-7 -jointed, the 4-angled joints 6-8 mm. long. — Roadsides and waste places, N. E. to N. J. (Nat. from Eu.)

Heal-All (Prunella vulgaris)

Heal-All, or Self-Heal, is everywhere; it tolerates a good deal of mowing, and seems to be indifferent to sun or shade, so it can establish itself in urban lawns as easily as at the edge of the woods. The color of the flowers is variable from deep purple to white; this is about the middle of the range. This plant grew in a lawn near Cranberry, where it was blooming in late July.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

PRUNÉLLA L. SELF-HEAL. Calyx tubular-bell-ehaped, somewhat lO-nerved, naked in the throat, closed in fruit; upper lip broad, truncate. Corolla ascending, slightly contracted at the throat and dilated at the lower side just beneath it, 2-lipped; upper lip erect, arched, entire; the lower reflexed-spreading, 3-cleft, its lateral lobes oblong, the middle one rounded, concave, denticulate. Filaments 2-toothed at the apex, the lower tooth bearing the anther; anthers approximate in pairs, their cells diverging. — Low perennials, with nearly simple stems, and 3-flowered clusters of flowers sessile in the axils of round and bract-like membranaceous floral leaves, imbricated in a close spike or head. (Name said to be from the German Bräune, a disease of the throat, for which this plant was a reputed remedy. Often written Brunella, which was a pre-Linnean form. )

P. vulgàris L. (HEAL-ALL, CARPENTER-WEED.) Leaves ovate-oblong, entire or toothed, petioled, hairy or smoothish; corolla violet or flesh-color, rarely white, not twice the length of the purplish calyx. — Woods and fields, Nfd. to Fla., westw. across the continent. June-Sept. (Eu.)

Var. laciniata L Some upper leaves tending to be pinnatifld. (P. laciniata L.) — Said to be introd. near Washington, D. C. (Adv. from Eu.)

The picture above has been donated to Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication, so no permission is required to use them for any purpose whatsoever.

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