Montana Outdoors

May 9, 2011

Fairybells and Fairyslippers

Here we still have lots of snow up high, but at the lower elevations many more wildflower species are starting to bloom.

Hooker's Fairybells

Hooker’s Fairybells, Disporum hookeri

Fairyslipper, Calypso Orchid

Fairyslipper, Calypso bulbosa

Hooker's Fairybells

Fairyslipper, Calypso Orchid


  1. Such fancy wildflowers. And such fancy names, too. That purple fairyslipper is a real eye stopper. It just begs to be admired. Lovely.


    Comment by Bo Mackison — May 10, 2011 @ 5:42 am

    • The Fairyslipper is an orchid and has a limited distribution because it requires a specific fungi in the soil which also makes it virtually impossible to transplant. It is listed as endangered or threatened in several states and its numbers are diminishing in areas where there are people around because it are being trampled or picked. They sure are pretty though.


      Comment by montucky — May 10, 2011 @ 8:29 am

  2. I really like the photos of the Fairyslipper; especially the last photo. What an intriguing and beautiful wildflowers. Great macros.


    Comment by Anna — May 10, 2011 @ 8:29 am

    • I consider that to be the prettiest of our wildflowers. I’m not sure how many people ever see them any more.


      Comment by montucky — May 10, 2011 @ 8:32 am

  3. how wonderfully delicate! And great colours too.


    Comment by stuaato — May 10, 2011 @ 8:53 am

    • Yes, like most of our wildflowers they are small and delicate.


      Comment by montucky — May 10, 2011 @ 6:42 pm

  4. Hi Montucky, Hands down, my favorite is the Fairy Slipper. I don’t think I have ever seen one in person. You have excellent photographs. Have a nice day today!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — May 10, 2011 @ 10:36 am

    • Their distribution is rather strange; across the northern states and down the west coast, leaving out most of the center of the country.


      Comment by montucky — May 10, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

  5. I like the fairy slipper, too. So, these are considered alpine plants?


    Comment by sandy — May 10, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

    • I don’t think they would be considered alpine. their distribution includes California, Arizona and New Mexico. They seem to do best here at low to mid altitudes, up to around 4,000 feet. They like moist (not wet) areas with low shade. In fact, they are often overlooked because they grow under the shade of some of the smaller shrubs.


      Comment by montucky — May 10, 2011 @ 6:48 pm

  6. The top photograph is magical!


    Comment by kcjewel — May 10, 2011 @ 8:10 pm

  7. I love the first photo–the slight blurriness gives it an ethereal quality, which is very fitting given the flower’s name. It looks like the fairy slipper grows in Michigan. I’ve never seen one. I went on a hike yesterday in an area were lady slippers are said to grow did not see any.


    Comment by kateri — May 11, 2011 @ 4:41 am

    • The fairyslippers might not be out yet: they just emerged here. They are very low to the ground and will be in under some of the shorter shrubs; difficult to see and are found only in certain places where there is the right fungi that they need. Good luck!


      Comment by montucky — May 11, 2011 @ 7:25 am

  8. These are gorgeous … I have never seen anything like them here. You truly do live in a “fairy land” …


    Comment by bearyweather — May 11, 2011 @ 6:09 am

    • These are both small, but delicate and pretty. We are blessed with many wildflower species here.


      Comment by montucky — May 11, 2011 @ 7:27 am

  9. looks like the fairies have been spreading a little springtime magic


    Comment by silken — May 11, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

    • They always do on these soft spring days!


      Comment by montucky — May 11, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

      • While I love our Montana wildflowers – and relish your photos of them, as my camera does not have the ability to capture the essense of a flower like yours does – I still have fond memories of the “spring ephemeral wildflowers” of Wisconsin, those flowers that complete their lifecycle under deciduous trees that haven’t yet leafed out, allowing light and warmth to reach the forest floor: Hepatica and bloodroot are two that I can’t get out of my mind….


        Comment by Kim — May 23, 2011 @ 8:46 am

        • I’ve seen photos of those and wish we did have them here. Bloodroot looks just a little like Queen’s Cup, which we do have.


          Comment by montucky — May 23, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

          • The flowers are similar, but if I’m thinking of the same Queen’s Cup, the leaves are very different.

            Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is in the poppy family and Queen’s Cup (Clintonia uniflora) is in the lily family.


            Comment by Kim — May 25, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

            • Other common names for Queens Cup are Bead Lily or Blue Bead Lily or Corn Lily.


              Comment by Kim — May 25, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

              • And USDA Plants calls it “Bride’s Bonnet”. They haven’t begun to bloom yet here; should be about mid-June.


                Comment by montucky — May 25, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

  10. Me, too, the fairyslippers are so pretty and not something I’ve seen.


    Comment by Candace — May 11, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

    • Their distribution does include Arizona, but it would be in the north, and you would have to be at just the right time. I did not see them when I lived there.


      Comment by montucky — May 11, 2011 @ 9:15 pm

  11. You are getting some great shots Terry, they are all wonderful !!


    Comment by Bernie Kasper — May 12, 2011 @ 6:41 pm

  12. Wow.

    Lovely photos. Most of all I love photos from Calypso bulbosa. It can be found in Finland, but it is very rare and protected.

    We call it “Neidonkenk√§” and translated into English is: Maiden’s shoe. Great name?


    Comment by sartenada — May 12, 2011 @ 11:21 pm

    • Yes, I like that name! It is endangered and protected in some of the northeastern states here too. It will thrive here in the west as long as we don’t destroy all of our forests.


      Comment by montucky — May 13, 2011 @ 8:21 am

  13. I’m amazed! I thought to myself “That looks like an orchid”. Well, there’s a reason for that.

    These truly are lovely. I’m just amazed by the diversity of plant life. Of course, we’re feeling dull and pedestrian around my part of Texas, as we haven’t had rain in months and have almost no wildflower crop.


    Comment by shoreacres — May 15, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

    • I am fortunate to live near quite a number of National Forest roadless areas, where the land remains little touched by human endeavors, and I’m also amazed at the diversity they hold in both plants and animals. It seems that the more I see and begin to understand, the more there is to be discovered.

      I’ve been reading about some of the drought you are having there. We have just ended a ten year drought here, but it was not as severe as the one you folks are having, just much drier than normal. Now, after a very wet winter it is so wonderful to see small streams again where they have been dry for many years and springs on the mountain sides that had been completely dried up. The plants and wildflowers in particular seem to be thriving again!


      Comment by montucky — May 15, 2011 @ 8:41 pm

  14. I was going to ask you if it’s an orchid but I see you’ve already answered someone and said it is. It’s very unusual, pretty.


    Comment by Val — May 23, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

    • Yes, it has a very unusual configuration. I wonder how that all came about!


      Comment by montucky — May 23, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

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