Soon the lower to mid-level elevation mountainsides in Montana will be brightly colored with the large bright flowers of Arrow-leaved Balsamroot. All parts of this large plant are edible and were a very important food source for the Indian peoples who were also native to this area. Their bloom is not wide-spread yet this spring, but some flowers are starting to show up in a few sheltered, warmer locations: the one in the photo is growing on the Flathead Reservation along the lower Flathead River.
This member of the sunflower family is well-named, with its arrowhead shaped leaves and roots that have the aroma of balsam pitch.
This is characteristically the time for the trilliums to be in full bloom along the Munson Creek trail in the TeePee/Spring Creek roadless area here in western Montana. The trail is a beautiful one that climbs steeply up the side of a wild canyon full of rushing water and thick undergrowth, then levels out for awhile to become the quiet companion of a musical little stream that bubbles along in the deep shade of tall cedars before it resumes it’s steep climb to Big Hole Peak.
There is always a small bloom not far from the trail head, but a much larger one a thousand feet higher, two miles up the trail. Today the ones down low were in full bloom, but the ones up higher were still a week or two away from their peak.
Since the bloom up high was just beginning, I took some rather strange and (hopefully) interesting photos of the trillium buds that I will post a little later. Today however I was captivated by this single small twig of an Oregon Grape. Isn’t it interesting how such a simple little thing can sometimes steal the whole show!