Author: Father Pitt

  • Great White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)


    By Mayday woodland hillsides are covered with enormous colonies of this beautiful flower, especially in stream valleys. This one grew along the aptly named Trillium Trail in Fox Chapel; another large colony grows on a hillside in the Allegheny Cemetery in Lawrenceville. The genus Trillum has been variously placed in the families Liliaceae and Trilliaceae, but botanists finally seem to have settled on placing it in the family Melanthiaceae, where doubtless it will find a good home.

    From Gray’s Manual of Botany: Trillium 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.

  • Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis)


    This is a marvelous plant. It blooms all summer in the poorest soil, even in the cracks of sidewalks; it closes when bad weather is coming, apparently in response to the change in atmospheric pressure; and it rescues French aristocrats from the guillotine.

  • Poke (Phytolacca americana)


    In 1844, supporters of James K. Polk for president wore sprigs of poke on their lapels. It was a pun, you see. He won, so the plant bears some responsibility for the Mexican War. The plant is also known as inkberry, because the flowers are succeeded by black berries whose juice stains absolutely anything, and can indeed be made into a serviceable ink.

  • Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)


    The distinctive arch of the stem marks this as a member of the borage or forget-me-not family. Virginia bluebells bloom in late April and early May in open woodlands and shady moist areas; these grew near the Trillium Trail in Fox Chapel.

  • Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata)


    In May these sky-blue flowers light up open woodlands in the stream valleys. These grew near the Trillium Trail in Fox Chapel.