Category: Scrophulariaceae

  • Sharp-Winged Monkey-Flower (Mimulus alatus)

    KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

    KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAn attractive snapdragon-like flower that likes wet locations; this one was growing in a ditch along a country lane near Cranberry, where it was beginning to bloom in late July.

    Most botanical references place the genus Mimulus in the Snapdragon family, Scrophulariaceae; but modern genetic studies have persuaded botanists to remove it to the family Phrymaceae, the Lopseed family, which had previously had only one species in it.

    Gray’s description of this species depends on his description of M. ringens, so we print that description in brackets:

    MÍMULUS L. MONKEY FLOWER. Calyx prismatic, 5-angled, 5-toothed, the uppermost tooth largest. Upper lip of corolla erect or reflexed-spreading, 2-lobed; lower spreading, 3-lobed. Stigma 2-lobed; lobes ovate. Seeds numerous. — Herbs, with opposite (rarely whorled) leaves, and mostly handsome flowers. (Diminutive of mimus, a buffoon, from the grinning corolla.)

    Corolla violet-purple (rarely white); erect glabrous perennials; leaves feather-veined.

    [M. ríngens L. Stem square, 1 m. or less high; leaves oblong or lanceolate, pointed, clasping by a heart-shaped base, serrate; peduncles longer than the flower; calyx-teeth taper-pointed, nearly equal; corolla personate, 2-4 cm. long. — Wet places, N. B. to Man., and southw. June-Sept.]

    M. alàtus Ait. Stem winged at the angles; leaves oblong-ovate, tapering into a petiole; peduncles shorter than the very short-toothed calyx; otherwise like the preceding. — Wet places, Ct. to s. Ont., Kan., and southw.

    KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

  • Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)

    Adaptable to many different lighting conditions; we wrote earlier that Foxglove Beardtongue “likes a sunny open field or clearing, although it will tolerate some shade,” but this one was growing in quite deep shade in a thicket in Schenley Park. It was blooming in early June.

    A relative of snapdragons and Butter-and-Eggs, this cheery flower also bears a passing resemblance to a foxglove, whence both the common and scientific names. The name “Beardtongue” comes from the hairy stamen visible in each flower.

    Most earlier botanical references spell the genus name Pentstemon, which may be more etymologically correct but apparently is not the way it was spelled in the original description.

    Traditionally, botanists placed snapdragons and their allies in the Snapdragon or Figwort family, Scrophulariaceae; but modern genetic research has led botanists to move them into the Plantain family, Plantaginaceae.

    The pictures in this particular article have been donated to Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. No permission is needed to use them for any purpose whatsoever.

    Gray makes this species a variety of P. laevigatus, so we turn to Alphonso Wood for a description of the genus and the species more in line with the consensus of modern botanists:

    PENTSTEMON, L. Beard-tongue. Calyx deeply 5-cleft. Cor. elongated, often ventricous, lower lip 3-lobed, spreading. The fifth filament (tongue) sterile, bearded, longer than the rest or about as long; anth. smooth. Seeds numerous, angular, not margined. Perennial N. American, branching, paniculate. Leaves opposite, the lower petiolate, upper sessile or clasping. Flowers showy, red, violet, blue, or white, in Summer.

    Native E. of the Mississippi River, sometimes cultivated.

    Leaves undivided, serrulate. Sterile filament (tongue) bearded.

    P. digitalis N. Glabrous; leaves elliptic to lanceolate, the upper clasping; flowers many, large, corolla tube abruptly enlarged to bell-form, pale blue or purplish, 12—15″ long, throat widely open, beardless. Rich soils, Pa., W. and S.

  • Persian Speedwell (Veronica persica)

    Veronica-persica-2013-03-30-Beechview-01

    These intensely blue flowers are so tiny that we often overlook them in our lawns, but they are one of the first cheerful signs of spring. They are alien invaders, and perhaps they have caused untold damage to our environment; but it’s hard to be angry at a plant that’s both tiny and beautiful. This plant was one of a patch growing in a lawn in Beechview, where it was blooming at the end of March.

    The flowers of the Persian Speedwell have yellow centers, fading to white veined with blue, the blue predominating toward the outer edges of the petals, and giving the overall impression of a blue flower from a short distance. The leaves are roundish, sessile near the top of thestem and on short petioles below, gently toothed, somewhat hairy. The plant seldom exceeds the height of a few inches, and can often pass unmolested under a lawnmower blade.

    This description will have to do, since Gray and his contemporaries did not describe the plant. Between their time and ours it has spread to every state in the union except Hawaii and North Dakota.

  • Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)

    A relative of snapdragons and Butter-and-Eggs, this cheery flower also bears a passing resemblance to a foxglove, whence both the common and scientific names. The name “Beardtongue” comes from the hairy stamen visible in each flower. The plant likes a sunny open field or clearing, although it will tolerate some shade; this plant was blooming in early June in a clearing in Scott Township.

    Most earlier botanical references spell the genus name Pentstemon, which may be more etymologically correct but apparently is not the way it was spelled in the original description.

    Traditionally, botanists placed snapdragons and their allies in the Snapdragon or Figwort family, Scrophulariaceae; but modern genetic research has led botanists to move them into the Plantain family, Plantaginaceae.

    Gray makes this species a variety of P. laevigatus, so we turn to Alphonso Wood for a description of the genus and the species more in line with the consensus of modern botanists:

    PENTSTEMON, L. Beard-tongue. Calyx deeply 5-cleft. Cor. elongated, often ventricous, lower lip 3-lobed, spreading. The fifth filament (tongue) sterile, bearded, longer than the rest or about as long; anth. smooth. Seeds numerous, angular, not margined. Perennial N. American, branching, paniculate. Leaves opposite, the lower petiolate, upper sessile or clasping. Flowers showy, red, violet, blue, or white, in Summer.

    Native E. of the Mississippi River, sometimes cultivated.

    Leaves undivided, serrulate. Sterile filament (tongue) bearded.

    P. digitalis N. Glabrous; leaves elliptic to lanceolate, the upper clasping; flowers many, large, corolla tube abruptly enlarged to bell-form, pale blue or purplish, 12—15″ long, throat widely open, beardless. Rich soils, Pa., W. and S.

  • Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)

    The generic name is more correctly spelled Buddleja, but the spelling Buddleia is much more familiar to gardeners.

    This favorite butterfly-garden plant often seeds itself, and it has a particular affinity for rocky ground, which in the city translates into sidewalk cracks. In the Pacific Northwest, and in Britain (where the climate is similar to our Pacific Northwest), the Butterfly Bush is an invasive weed. Here it’s an occasional volunteer; this plant sprouted near its parent in a front yard in Beechview, where it was blooming in late September.

    The most remarkable thing about Butterfly Bush, of course, is the way it attracts hordes of butterflies. It starts blooming in July, and it keeps blooming until frost. For most of that time, it will be surrounded by butterflies, along with hummingbird hawkmoths and occasional hummingbirds.

    Flowers. White to deep violet, but most commonly in the pink range, with a distinctive orange throat. Borne in spikes at the ends of the branches.

    Leaves. Lanceolate, with small teeth; softly downy; alternate; somewhat greyish green, much paler on the underside.

    Stems. Old growth is woody and twiggy; new growth in early summer may sprout vigorously from the base and reach a height of six or seven feet (about 2 m) by July. Often dies back to the ground over winter, but just as often regrows from old branches.