Montana Outdoors

May 2, 2007

May wild flowers, part 1

Filed under: Beaver, Flowers, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photos, Pictures — montucky @ 7:20 pm

Lately I’ve been thinking about an area of beaver dams not far from home and today decided to visit there. Because I didn’t go prepared to wade in water up to my waist (it‘s now well into the spring runoff), I wasn’t able to get to where I wanted. Instead, it turned our to be a day of flowers.

This one is a Heart-leafed Arnica arnica cord folia (Sunflower family). It looks a lot like a close family member, the Arrowleaf Balsamroot, but while the latter is a great food plant, the Arnica can be used as a drug. The flower is the most potent part, and when processed, can be taken orally to raise body temperature. Used as a salve externally, it aids in keeping down infection.

Heart-leafed Arnica

These yellow blooms on the Oregon Grape will turn into tiny grapes later in the summer. The plant is only a few inches tall, and the fruit is a light smoky-blue color. It’s edible, but compared to these little grapes, a lemon tastes like a sugar cube! It’s always fun to see someone who isn’t familiar with it try some.

Oregon grape blossoms

Wake Robin; Birthroot Trillium ovatum (Lily family) was used in various ways by the Indians as an aid to childbirth, a love medicine and even as an eye wash. Aside from those uses, the leaves may be boiled and eaten as greens. The flowers are 1 to 2 inches across.

Wake Robin; Birthroot

The Shooting Star, Dodecatheon pauciflorum (Primrose family), was one of my favorites when I was a child. We also called them “Rooster Heads”. The flower is ½ to 1 inch long. It was always one of the most popular wild flowers for children to take home for their mothers.

Shooting Star

Despite being unable to visit the beaver sites I wanted to, I was able to see part of one on the outskirts of their area. Over an area of about a half mile of this small stream, they have built a complete development, with many dams, the overflow of each feeding the next. I’ll visit again around mid summer and perhaps catch one or two of the residents out and about.

Beaver dam

Oh, and for those who are looking for a nice shady place to sit undisturbed and read a good book on a summer’s afternoon, I know just the place:

Beaver pond


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