Category: Rosaceae

  • Crabapple (Malus coronaria)


    Before the leaves are fully formed on most of the other trees, crabapple blossoms light up the woods all over western Pennsylvania. The crown of stamens and the blunt-toothed leaves are distinctive. These trees were blooming in Schenley Park in late April.


    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.



  • Purple-Flowering Raspberry (Rubus odoratus)

    The beautiful flowers of this plant vie with wild roses (Rosa spp.) for spectacle, and indeed it is often planted as an ornamental. In the wild, it prefers a semi-shaded hillside; these were growing on a hill above the Allegheny River Boulevard near Verona, where they were blooming in late May. The leaves are more or less maple-shaped. The raspberry-like fruit, alas, is no good for eating.

    Gray describes the genus and the species:

    RÙBUS [Tourn.] L. BRAMBLE. Calyx 6 (3-7)-parted, without bractlets. Petals 5, deciduous. Stamens numerous. Achenes usually many, collected on a spongy or succulent receptacle, becoming small drupes; styles nearly terminal. — Perennial herbs, or somewhat shrubby plants, with white (rarely reddish) flowers, and usually edible fruit. (The Roman name, kindred with ruber, red.)

    ANAPLÓBATUS Focke. Unarmed shrubs; leaves simple, 5-6-lobed or angled; flowers large and showy; fruit large, hemispherical, red. Rubacer Rydb.

    R. odoràtus L. (PURPLE FLOWERING R.) Shrubby, 1-1.6 m. high; branches, stalks, and calyx bristly with glandular-clammy hairs; leaves 3-5-lobed, the lobes pointed and minutely toothed, the middle one prolonged; peduncles many-flowered; flowers showy (3-6 cm. broad); calyx-lobes tipped with a long narrow appendage; petals rounded, purple rose-color: fruit scarcely edible. — N. S. to Ga., w. to Mich.

  • Blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis)

    Blackberry canes are full of thorns, but they give us blackberries, so who are we to complain? The flowers that precede the berries are like little white roses,as befits a member of the rose family—but curiously wrinkled and untidy roses, as if they had slept in their petals after a long night of exhausting revelry. These blackberries were blooming in early May by a wooden fence in Scott Township.

    Gray describes the genus and the species:

    RUBUS [Tourn.] L. BRAMBLE. Calyx 5 (3-7)-parted, without bractlets. Petals 5, deciduous. Stamens numerous. Achenes usually many, collected on a spongy or succulent receptacle, becoming small drupes; styles nearly terminal. Perennial herbs, or somewhat shrubby plants, with white (rarely reddish) flowers, and usually edible fruit. (The Roman name, kindred with ruber, red.)

    R. allegheniensis Porter. Shrubby, 1-2 m. tall; old canes purplish, armed with stout straightish prickles; leaflets appressed-villous above, velvety beneath; branchlets, pedicels (unarmed), etc., glandular-pubescent; flowers 2.5-3.5 cm. broad, racemose, only the lower leafy-bracted; petals narrowly obovate; fruit (rarely pale) generally subcylindric, of many rather small drupelets, of good flavor. (R. mllosus Man. ed. 6, in large part, not Ait.; R. nigrobaccus Bailey.) Dry open thickets and recent clearings, N. S. to Ont. and N. C., common.
  • Memorial Rose (Rosa wichuraiana)

    Also known as Rosa luciae. This is the familiar pink rambling rose of roadsides and banks in the city and suburbs. It often persists around old homesites, but it also seems to appear spontaneously often enough that we can regard it as a naturalized citizen of our flora. This plant was blooming in late May on a hillside in Banksville.

    Flowers: Five petals with shallow notches, light pink verging on white at the center, with a generous helping of bright yellow stamens.

    Leaves: Dark green, elliptical, very regular, with toothed and pointed leaflets, thorns on the underside at each leaflet junction.

    Stems: Arching, up to about six feet (about 2 m) high, or more with support.

    All our standard botanical references ignore this plant, which apparently did not escape so frequently in the time of Gray or Britton & Brown.; but the excellent Wildflowers of Western Pennsylvania site has a very good description of the Memorial Rose.

  • Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)

    These fine large trees produce an abundance of little white flowers in narrow racemes, followed by tasty black fruit. The crinkly rough bark of mature trees is distinctive. This tree grew at the edge of a field near Zelienople, where it was blooming in late May.

    The similar Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana) also carries its flowers in narrow racemes, but its fruit is red, its bark is smooth, and it rarely grows into more than a medium-sized tree.

    The large genus Prunus also includes plums and many other useful fruits. Cherries with flowers and fruit in narrow racemes are placed in the subgenus Padus. Gray describes the genus, the subgenus, and the species:

    PRUNUS [Tourn.] L. PLUM, CHERRY, etc. Calyx 5-cleft; the tube bell-shaped, urn-shaped, or tubular-obconical, deciduous after flowering. Petals 5, spreading. Stamens 16-20. Pistil solitary, with 2 pendulous ovules. Drupe fleshy, with a bony stone. —Small trees or shrubs, with mostly edible fruit. (The ancient Latin name.) Cerasus B. Juss. Amygdalus L.

    PÀDUS [L.] Reichenb. Drupe small, globose, without bloom; the stone turgid-ovate, marginless; flowers in racemes terminating leafy branches, therefore appearing after the leaves, late in spring. Padus Moench.

    P. serótina Ehrh. (WILD BLACK or RUM C.) A large tree, with reddish-brown branches, the inner bark aromatic; leaves oblong or lanceolate-oblong.

    In Pennsylvania Trees, an extraordinarily useful book issued by the Commonwealth’s Department of Forestry in 1914, Joseph S. Illick gives us this copious description (fortunately the march toward extinction he warns us about has been reversed):

    Prunus serotina, Ehrhart.

    FORM—Usually reaches a height 0f 50-75 ft. with a diameter of 2-3 ft., but may attain a height of 110 ft. with a diameter of 5 feet. in forest-grown specimens the trunk is usually long, clean, and with littie taper, while in open-grown specimens it is usually short. Crown rather irregularly-oblong.

    BARK—On young trunks rather smooth, glossy, reddish-brown, marked with conspicuous white horizontally-elongated lent icela: peels off in thin fiim-like layers, and exposed greenish inner bark. On old trunks blackish, roughened by thick irregular plates with projecting edges.

    TWIGS—Smooth, rather slender, reddish-brown, marked with numerous, pale, round lenticels which in time become horizontally-elongated; pith white or light brown. Often covered with a thin, film-like, grayish coating which rubs off readily. Inner bark has a characteristic bitter taste and a rather pleasant odor.

    BUDS—Alternate, about 1/8 – 1/6 of an inch long, ovate, usually sharp-pointed, smooth, glossy, reddish-brown, covered by about 4 visible ovate bud-acales which are sometimes coated with a smoky or grayish film-like skin. Lateral buds usually divergent but sometimes appressed, flattened, and larger than the terminal.

    LEAVES—Alternate, simple, oblong or lanceolate-oblong, 2-5 inches long, tapering or rounded at bane, taper-pointed at apex, serrate on margin with short incurved teeth, rather thick and shiny above, paler beneath.

    LEAF-SCARS—Alternate, more than 2-rankcd, raised on projections of the twig, semielliptical tendency in outiine, with 3 bundle-scars.

    FLOWERS—Appear in May or June; white, perfect, about 1/4 of an inch across, borne in elongated drooping racemes 3-4 inches long.

    FRUIT—A purpllsh-biaсk juicy drupe, 1/3 to 1/2 of an inch in diameter, arranged in rather open dropping clusters; seed stony. Matures in summer.

    WOOD—Diffuse-porous; rays very distinct; heartwood reddish-brown; sap wood narrow and yellowish; moderately heavy, hard and strong, fine-grained, does not warp or split in seasoning. Young wood is very durable. Its value is due to color and lustre and not to figure. Weighs 36.28 lbs. per cubic foot. Used principally in furniture and finish, also used for tools like spirit levels, implements, patterns, cores, and for high class panels.

    DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS—The Wild Black Cherry, also known as Wild Cherry, Rum Cherry, Black Cherry, and Cabinet Cherry, may be distinguished from our other native species by its larger size and by the rough, dark, scaly bark which is found on the older trunks. For further distinguishing characteristics see Choke Cherry, page 171, and Fire Cherry, page 172. The introduced Domestic Cherry (Prunus avium) can be distinguished from this one by its stouter often grayish twigs, its smoother and shiny bark (Fig. 115) with conspicuous long and high lenticels and its clustered buds at the tips of stubby, lateral, spur-like branches. The fruit of the Domestic Cherry is larger than that of our native cherries and the leaves have rounded teeth often with glands and are frequentiy slightly pubescent on the lower side.

    RANGE—Nova Scotia south to Florida, westward to South Dakota, Kansas, and Texas.

    DISTRIBUTION IN PENNSYLVANIA—Found throughout the State. Rather common but nowhere very abundant. Usually occurs solitary in mixture with other species. Magnificent specimens were present in the original forest of Potter county. Thrifty pure stands of young trees occur at present on the Hull State Forest in southern Potter county. The specimen of this species contained in the Jessup Wood Collection exhibited in the American Museum of Natural History, New York City, was procured in Wyoming county, Pennsylvania.

    HABITAT—Thrives best on rich alluvial soil and fertile slopes. It will grow on dry and often rather sterile slopes. On account of its long tap-root it requires loose deep soil. Forester George Perry reports that this species suffers least from late frosts of all the native trees of southern Potter county.

    IMPORTANCE OF THE SPECIES—This is a very important timber tree. its wood is valuable especially for furniture and interior finish. Nowhere in its range has it ever been very abundant and on account of its prized wood it has been cut extensively. As a consequence it is now becoming rare, in fact marching towards extinction. It deserves to be planted extensively and to be protected carefully where it is found growing naturally.