This afternoon I hiked up to Buttercup Ridge to check on the buttercups. The two plants that had flower buds a week ago still looked just the same, but when I wandered a hundred feet or so further up the ridge, this one was in full bloom. Interestingly, the first blooms there in 2011 were also on February 5th.
They are on a small, narrow ridge above the Clark Fork river. The elevation of the river there is about 2400 feet and the ridge is about 200 feet higher. The mountains along both sides of the river top out at around 7000 feet, and the snow line now is not much more than a thousand feet higher than the ridge.
I love finding the first blooms. It’s like when I lived up north and when the snow started melting it was a big deal to find the first patch of bare ground, especially if there were pebbles. They were so bright and polished looking because of the water running over them – as if they’d been in a rock polisher. That buttercup looks extra beautiful because of the date.
I can’t rule out anything, but I think it is just a uniquely sheltered spot that catches every bit of available sun at just the right angle to make it nearly perpendicular this time of year. It also seems to be sheltered from the wind. I’ve also wondered if it is because it has been fertilized by the Big Horn sheep?!
I certainly understand that desire to have more snow and the moisture it brings.I saw something, somewhere, today suggesting the next big storm may bring helpful snows to the midwest – the sort that can help to protect the land.
The flower is so pretty. Out of curiosity, do you know what that spikey thing is that’s tucked up next to the bottom leaf? I see the other buttercup plants beginning to develop, but that other little bit looks like something unrelated.
I have no idea what that thing is. When I blow the photo way up I see several similar, but that one seems to have gotten larger, then suffered frost damage on the tips of the leaves/spikes. There are all kinds of small plants beginning to grow and spread out now but I don’t think any are of the flowering kind.
I reviewed my photo archives and found that I discovered the early blossoms in that place in 2009 when they were in bloom on Feb. 13. In 2010, Feb 7; in 2011 Feb 5; in 2012 Feb 28, and in 2013 Feb 5. Quite regularly also, they start to bloom elsewhere after the first of March.
I’m amazed that Montana has flowering plants in February. I know it is primarily due to aspect, but I still find this to be incredible. Wondering who would pollinate the flower??? And still, what a beautiful item to see in winter!
I am amazed at you finding flowers this time of year
it has been warm here too, but of course i have a foot of snow still in my yard
not in town WF is nearly pavement
such a sweet and perfect flower you have found!
i also enjoyed looking at the posts i have missed.