Songbird migration is over so I’m paying more attention to flowers even though there aren’t very many in early June. April’s woodland flowers are long past and July’s field flowers aren’t here yet. Even so, I found a few blooms last week in Schenley and Frick Parks.
Above, an ornamental mock orange shrub bloomed along the Lower Panther Hollow Trail in Schenley Park. Below, daisies are blooming at the tiny meadow next to Bartlett Playground.
In Frick Park I found cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum) along Lower Nine Mile Run Trail.
This native plant can grow 7 feet tall. Here I stand by one at Mingo Creek in 2013.
Because their flowers and leaves are similar, some people mistake cow parsnip for giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), an invasive plant from Eurasia that’s so toxic it causes nasty skin rashes if you merely brush against it. Fortunately it’s easy to tell the difference by looking at the stems and leaf joints.
Cow parsnip is all green. (2 photos above)
Giant hogweed has purple blotches on its stem and leaf joints, just like poison hemlock. (2 photos below)
Both plants are so big that you can identify them from afar before getting too close.
Green is good. Purple is bad. The flowers are white on both of them.
(photos by Kate St. John except where noted in the caption which is linked to the originals on Wikimedia Commons)
Yesterday, in the midst of a warbler-filled visit to Presque Isle State Park, I paused to take a photo of this flower at Beach 11.
Star-flowered Solomon’s seal or Star-flowered lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum stellatum) is so beautiful that I thought it was an alien that escaped from a garden. Thankfully it is native to North America.
Greater celandine (Chelidonium majus) is a Eurasian perennial in the poppy family that’s blooming now in Schenley Park. Though it resembles our native celandine-poppy it’s not as particular about habitat. It can be invasive.
To be sure it’s in the poppy family, break a leaf. Greater celandine has orange latex sap.
Don’t put the evidence in your pocket. The “orange juice” can leave a stain.
April 19-25 was another good week for beautiful flowers and new leaves in southwestern Pennsylvania. Check the captions on my photos for species, date and location. Thanks to John English for the white violet from Frick Park.
BONUS! There’s mystery plant to identify at the end. Yes, it’s probably an alien.
In Frick Park yesterday, John English found white violets.
Mystery plant shown below. … By the way, thank you for your suggestions regarding the iNaturalist app. I don’t use it to identify things because I get sucked into email/messaging when I use my cellphone outdoors. There’s a side benefit, though. You have a puzzle to solve.
Question: Can you tell me what plant this is? I photographed these new leaves at Boyce-Mayview Park because I love their wrinkled texture. They remind me of an invasive ornamental shrub called Jetbead which is currently blooming in Schenley Park but this shrub has no flowers. Please leave a comment with your answer.
ANSWER! This is Viburnum plicatum otherwise known as Snowball bush. It’s from Japan. Thank you, Dianne Machesney.
On my solitary walks during the COVID-19 shutdown I find more and more beauty as Spring comes to Pittsburgh. Here are a few of the flowers and trees that bloomed this week. See the captions for species, location and date.
Frost damage: Yellow buckeyes are some of the earliest trees to leaf out but they pay a price if the temperature falls below freezing as it did this week. The early leaves are wilted on this yellow buckeye in Schenley Park.
And finally, a mystery flower in a waste place in Schenley Park. I think it’s an alien. Can you tell me what it is? (Newcomb’s: 4 petals with alternate, toothed leaves). ANSWER: Thanks to Dianne Machesney. This is Field Pennycress and yes it’s an alien.