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



  1. These wildflower photographs bring back a lot of memories. Thanks for sharing them.



    Comment by knightofswords — May 2, 2007 @ 8:41 pm

  2. Yes, I too can remember the wild flowers from way back in the 40’s. Sadly though, some, like the Bitterroot have just about vanished.

    There’s always something blooming around here, and when a given species is finished blooming in the valley locations, a thousand feet or more into the mountains, it’s just starting. Buttercups have been gone around here for a week or so, but they were just getting started up where I was today.


    Comment by montucky — May 2, 2007 @ 9:18 pm

  3. I see you’re putting your camera to good use – great shots. As a bit of a photog buff myself, might I ask what you’re using?

    BTW – our flowers aren’t out quite yet, but the trees have begun to bud – a good sign. Should be extremely green in a week or two.


    Comment by wolf — May 3, 2007 @ 8:28 am

  4. I’ll be interested in seeing some of your spring pictures when mother nature is ready. We’ve already had a turnover of wild flowers in the valleys, but in the higher elevations it’s still early spring. I still can’t get into the real high country yet though.

    The camera I’m now using is the latest from Kodak in the high-zoom line. I have one of the first that they have shipped. It’s a Z712 IS and seems to have excellent specs, with a 1 – 12X optical zoom and 7.1 Megapixels max. Auto everything or manual everything, or a fairly large choice of combinations. The experimenting has just begun. In the next post that I’ll make later today are two shots that I really like, one of a Glacier Lily, and of of a very rare Calypso Orchid.

    The Z712 is affordable vs the SLR’s and just as important to me, it’s small and light for transport into the wilderness areas. It’s easier to protect from adverse weather situations than a large camera.


    Comment by montucky — May 3, 2007 @ 9:04 am

  5. walking thru Montana

    love the picts! everyday is a field trip!

    last summer I took my daughter and her friend to pick some wild grapes near my parent’s house, muskadines my dad calls them. not too nice to eat. we thought we’d try to make some jelly or something. big hassle and my daughter’s friend broke out, so we never did even finish peeling them.

    the glacier lily ought to be a good contrast to my ginger lily


    Comment by skouba — May 3, 2007 @ 12:27 pm

  6. Thanks, skouba!

    I’ve heard that the tiny Oregon grapes make great jelly when toned down with something else. Alone, they are so sour you wouldn’t believe it!

    Glacier lilies are easy to grow: you just find where nature put them. I don’t think they can be domesticated though, or at least I’ve never been aware of it being done. They wouldn’t grow anyway at the elevation and conditions around my house. The color would be a great contrast to your Ginger Lily!


    Comment by montucky — May 3, 2007 @ 1:29 pm

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