For most of you Montana Outdoor Radio Show fans, walking around in the woods is only interesting if you are carrying a rifle, scope and a tag during hunting season. But, there are a few of us earth crunchy type that get our kicks by walking around the woods hunting down and identifying wildflowers.
I happen to be one of them.
No, these finds don’t fill my freezer, or really give me any sense of adrenaline pump when I find them, but I still like hiking with a purpose. And they may not make a great trophy, but they do make some great photos.
This week I decided to stray off my usual walking route and explore some different trails in the Blue Mountain area near Missoula. I am sure glad I did because I spotted some different Spring wildflowers that were hidden from the main trail. I imagine within a couple weeks these beauties will be popping up everywhere, but for now I felt like a real treasure hunter.
SHOOTING STAR Dodacatheon pulchellum
Distinctive flowers with four or five bright magenta petals that flare rearward, resembling the tail of a shooting star. Stamens are fused into a dark snout. Several flowers hang from the top of a straight leafless stalk.
Leaves: Roundish leaves in a basal rosette.
Size: to 16 inches; flowers 1-1.5 inches long.
Season: May to July
Habitat: Foothills to Subalpine
Grows in moist areas, near streams and seeps.
Arrowleaf balsamroot Balsamorhiza sagittata
This is the first Arrowleaf balsamroot I have seen this Spring, but in a couple of weeks this bright yellow flower will cover most of the hillsides around Missoula.
Description:Large golden flower 2 to 4 inches across, consisting of rayflowers surrounding tubular diskflowers. Stands atop stem 8 to 24 inches tall with hairy, arrow-shaped leaves up to 1 foot long and 6 inches wide growing from base. Found in dry soil of valleys and hills. Blooms late April to July. (Peterson Field Guides – Rocky Mountain Wildflowers, by John J. Craighead, Frank C. Craighead Jr. and Ray J. Davis.)
Pasqueflower (Anemone patens)
Pasqueflower is one of my favorites because of its delicate nature. The petals are a soft pastel purple and covered in a light layer of feathery fuzz. They have a distinctive egg shape and when fully blossomed, reveal a bright yellow center.
Pasqueflower (Anemone patens, or Anemone nuttalliana and Pulsatilla patens) is commonly called many names including Prairie-crocus, wild crocus, lion’s beard, wind flower, meadow anemone and Easter Flower.The latter because they generally flower near Easter usually in mid or late April. It is a perennial spring-flowering European plant related to the anemones, with purple flowers and fern-like foliage.