Montana Outdoors

May 26, 2008

Early Tolmies

Following a hunch yesterday, I paid a visit in the rain to the lower part of Munson Creek to see if the Tolmie Star-tulips were blooming yet. It’s still a little early, but there were already three blossoms showing: later there will be hundreds in that location.

From what I can tell, this little flower is supposed to be confined to Washington, Oregon and California only, but I guess nobody told Calochortus tolmiei because I’ve found them growing in four different locations in both the Cabinet Mountains and the Coeur d’Alene mountains here in western Montana and that’s something for which I’m very grateful: they‘re a beautiful little flower (about half an inch across) with lots of varieties.

Tolmie star-tulip, (Calochortus tolmiei)

Tolmie star-tulip (Calochortus tolmiei)

Tolmie star-tulip (Calochortus tolmiei)

Tolmie star-tulip (Calochortus tolmiei)

Tolmie Star-tulip at USDA Plants


  1. Beautiful image and subject Terry, I can’t keep up with all the wonderful images you have been posting !!

    You are becoming a photography machine, and I mean very nice shots, your floral images are first rate !!


    Comment by Bernie Kasper — May 26, 2008 @ 10:02 pm

  2. Thanks for your kind words, Bernie! So far it has been a good year with plenty of opportunities to photograph some great subjects.


    Comment by montucky — May 27, 2008 @ 7:47 am

  3. These are just gorgeous. What an interesting little thing; I have to say that hairy look inside is really pretty.


    Comment by aullori — May 27, 2008 @ 10:17 am

  4. Last year, when you posted pix of the tolmie on Communati, I saved a pic and set it as the wallpaper on my then-new laptop. Guess what? It’s still there. 🙂

    I love these little flowers!


    Comment by wordvixen — May 27, 2008 @ 6:55 pm

  5. Such a different life than I am living out here in Harlem. Nice though.




    Comment by stalherz — May 27, 2008 @ 7:49 pm

  6. These are really lovely. Do they have a fragrance?


    Comment by Tabbie — May 27, 2008 @ 7:54 pm

  7. Lori,

    I’ve been fascinated by these little things since I first photographed one and was able to see what it really looked like. They are only about a half inch across, so they’re easy to overlook. You might watch for them in your area. I read somewhere (I think it was on the USDA site) that they only grow west of the Cascades, but they are plentiful around here and they just might be close to you too. The ones in these photos are growing at about 2,600 feet, but later in the summer I’ve seen them as high as 7,000.

    Today I hikes into the edge of the Cherry Peak roadless area and that’s where I first saw the Tolmie. That spot is still under several feet of snow now, so they haven’t started their summer yet.


    Comment by montucky — May 27, 2008 @ 8:11 pm

  8. I love them too, WordVixen! They are right at the very top of my favorite list. As the summer progresses, if I’m not too involved with fires, I will photograph more varieties again. I was really excited to see these already!

    I’m very pleased that you used one of the photos for wallpaper! It’s a flower that I don’t ever get tired of.


    Comment by montucky — May 27, 2008 @ 8:14 pm

  9. Stalherz,

    Thanks for visiting! I have never been to New York, but I can understand a little because I have spent a little time in Philly and the folks there gave me an idea of what big city East Coast living in like. I prefer the wild country.


    Comment by montucky — May 27, 2008 @ 8:16 pm

  10. Tabbie,

    I have not been able to detect a fragrance from them, but my sense of smell is not very good any more, and they are very tiny. They are just beginning their season and hopefully I will be able to post photos of more of their varieties later. They retain the basic petal pattern and color but there are many varieties of the insides. They are also very delicate.


    Comment by montucky — May 27, 2008 @ 8:21 pm

  11. I have been away for a few days and boy have I missed your photos! The floral photos are soooo beautiful – you have so many that I have never seen – I am glad you have a passion for sharing them!! Our world needs more beauty spread around!! Could spring finally be here? Our lilacs finally started blooming, a good 2-3 weeks behind schedule, but at least they are here now!! Happy Spring!


    Comment by Sandy — May 27, 2008 @ 9:36 pm

  12. Thank you, Sandy! I’m always happy that someone enjoys seeing the wildflowers that I enjoy so much! There are so many folks around who don’t care about them or just don’t bother to go out and see them, even though many can be found fairly close by.

    Some of our lilacs are blooming now too, just in time for Memorial day and, like yours, a couple weeks late. Spring is my favorite time of year because I can combine two things I really love: wildflowers and high mountain trails!


    Comment by montucky — May 27, 2008 @ 9:52 pm

  13. I’ll keep a sharp eye out… we seem to share so many species it always flabbergasts me when I can’t find one you post. Then (like last year with the arctic lily) bang there it is… I just didn’t hit the right spot. For example that one grows on (so far as I can tell) one mt here… which is now being logged 😦

    I think it had to do with elevation tho. I rarely get as high as you do. (I’ll try and get hubby to take me to Sherman pass this week and I’ll see what I find there; the elevation I think is 6500-7000 ft.) And see what I run across. It sounds like fun! There’s still snow there too (and moose) maybe I’ll get lucky!


    Comment by aullori — May 27, 2008 @ 10:01 pm

  14. Good luck at the pass. I know we can’t get that high around here yet. I was stopped by very heavy snow today at around 5,600 feet. Save me a moose! I only saw a few last year.

    I was hoping to see a bear on the trail today but there wasn’t even any sign. I suppose it could be that the snow is so heavy there that they’re not out yet, at least on the north-facing slopes.


    Comment by montucky — May 27, 2008 @ 10:37 pm

  15. It looks so full of texture I can’t believe it is so small. I love taking photographs of the teeny ones, finally gives a chance to ‘see’ what has always been there that we’ve missed. These are great photos.


    Comment by Bo — May 28, 2008 @ 5:27 am

  16. It’s a little bit sad, isn’t it? Without a lens they wouldn’t be appreciated nearly as much.


    Comment by montucky — May 28, 2008 @ 8:33 am

  17. They’re furry inside!! I think I’m in love! I was hiking in Yellowstone the other day and saw some of the shooting stars you posted pictures of. (And because of you I impressed my hiking companions by knowing their name.)

    They’re *tiny*! I’m deeply impressed with your camera’s macro setting now, my little camera was completely unable to get a picture of them.


    Comment by Sara — May 28, 2008 @ 10:14 pm

  18. I’m glad you got to see the shooting stars ( and remembered their name)! Yes, they’re small as are a lot of the wildflowers. The camera lens helps a lot and it has shown me the beauty of many tiny things. I hope you really enjoyed Yellowstone!


    Comment by montucky — May 28, 2008 @ 10:39 pm

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