Montana Outdoors

June 7, 2010

The Ladyslippers

After a very strange winter, the blooming schedule of many of our wildflowers has been different this spring. I feared that I had missed these or that they would not have a good year: neither was true. They are now in full bloom and they seem to be in even greater numbers than usual.

Mountain LadyslipperMountain Ladyslipper, Cypripedium montanum, Orchid family

Mountain Ladyslipper

Mountain Ladyslipper

Last week I also encountered quite a few plants with blossoms that had not yet opened and I nearly failed to recognize them. That was the first time I have seen them at that stage.

Mountain Ladyslipper

Mountain Ladyslipper

June 5, 2010

Very important “flowers”.

Filed under: Trees — Tags: , , , , — montucky @ 10:49 pm

The Ponderosa pines in our area are now “flowering” and the air at times can seem like it’s full of pollen. For those not familiar with them, Ponderosas are very large trees which can grow up to 150 feet tall and over 4 feet in diameter and which have life-spans of up to 600 years. Ponderosa forests provide important winter ranges for many species of wildlife including deer, elk and Big Horn sheep and the seeds are used by birds and small mammals. They produce a light softwood which has been widely used in home construction.

Their “flowers” are quite distinctive and are not actually flowers at all but cones, and these trees are monoecious which means that each tree has both male and female reproductive units. (A cone is an organ on coniferous trees that contains the reproductive structures.) The male cones produce pollen and the female cones produce seeds.

Ponderosa PineMale cones are yellow-red, cylindrical, in clusters near ends of branches.

Ponderosa PineFemale cones are reddish at branch tips.

Ponderosa Pine

Interestingly, although they are quite distinctive, the pine “flowers” often go unnoticed by many folks who actually live around the trees.

June 4, 2010

Small and white

Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , , , , , — montucky @ 10:08 pm

Small White VioletSmall White Violet, Viola macloskeyi

Small White VioletSmall White Violet, Viola macloskeyi

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June 3, 2010

There’s no place like home!

Filed under: Montana, Outdoors — Tags: , , — montucky @ 10:45 pm

Two weeks ago as I returned from a few days visit to Arizona, these were some of the first scenes I saw in Montana as I crossed into the state from the south. Even though I was still nearly five hundred miles from my house in the northwestern part of the state, it felt so good to be home!

For over twenty years I lived away from Montana and in those years I would return for a couple weeks each summer to visit. During those trips, as I looked at these scenes the feeling was bitter sweet because I knew I would have to go back soon. This time the “bitter” was not there: I knew I didn’t have to leave again.

Beaverhead MountainsBeaverhead Mountains, southern Montana

Beaverhead MountainsBeaverhead Mountains, southern Montana

Clark Canyon ReservoirClark Canyon reservoir, southern Montana

Clark Canyon ReservoirClark Canyon reservoir, southern Montana

June 2, 2010

Some of our summer “family”

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — montucky @ 8:51 pm

Some time ago I considered disposing of several old bird houses that had been around for many years. Instead, I cleaned and repaired them and I’m glad I did because they have become the summer homes of tree swallows who come in every year and raise their families in them. Their acrobatic flights are so much fun to watch!

Here’s one of our pretty little summer “family” members who appreciates having a safe nesting place even though it’s old:

Tree swallow

Tree swallow

Tree swallow

June 1, 2010

Cat’s Ears and Pussytoes

The common names that have been given to wildflowers are often a disappointment, but these two seem to be aptly named.

Subalpine Mariposa LilyMountain Cat’s Ear, Subalpine Mariposa Lily, Mountain Mariposa, Calochortus subalpinus

Field PussytoesField Pussytoes, Antennaria neglecta

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