Montana Outdoors

May 22, 2012

More May blossoms

Antelope Bush

The blossoms of Antelope Bush, Purshia tridentata. It is somewhat similar in appearance to sagebrush and is a very important food source for deer during the most harsh parts of winter.

Black Hawthorn

Black Hawthorn

Black Hawthorn, Crataegus douglasii. This grows as a large deciduous shrub to a small tree with very nasty thorns. It bears fruit that looks very similar to Serviceberry and it’s edible but neither good tasting nor juicy. The name “Crataegus” is from the Greek “largos”, ‘strength”, because of the great strength of the wood. On my hikes into the back country I always carry the 63-inch long staff of Hawthorn that I have had for many years now and over the several thousand miles it has accompanied me in those years it has helped me through some serious back country situations. Once I cut it, I carefully peeled the bark from it and began applying hand-rubbed coats of linseed oil. It probably has 80 coats now and is in every bit as good condition as when I first cut it.

Ponderosa Pine

Ponderosa Pine

Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa. Allergy sufferers beware: look at the pollen in the second photo! This pine can grow to be 100 feet tall and 4.5 feet in diameter and can live for up to 600 years. We share the property where we live with two mature Ponderosas and I’m constantly in awe at standing next to trees that were probably close to a hundred feet tall when the Revolutionary War was under way.

Silky Lupine

Silky Lupine, Lupinus sericeus. Pretty blossoms, but only a little over half their normal size because of lack of enough precipitation for the last month or so. We have had lots of clouds and showers that had very little rain in them. I’ve seen the same thing with many of the flowers that are now getting into their blooming season.

Field Chickweed

Field Chickweed, Cerastium arvense


  1. Lupine already? I haven’t even seen plants here, yet! We have something called cockspur hawthorn here, with similar leaves. (My spell checker just changed it to cocksure hawthorn). I have really watch it now. Have you noticed anything different with yours lately? I know you have a mac, too.


    Comment by sandy — May 23, 2012 @ 7:42 am

    • This is an unusual year for plants here. Some that I’ve expected to bloom have not yet, but others are weeks ahead of usual. Many that are just starting to bloom are very small, others more luxuriant than ever. I’m not quite sure what to make of it.

      I’ve given up on my spellchecker. It doesn’t seem to be consistent at all, and I’m not even sure if it is a Mac thing or a browser thing. Either way I don’t seem to be able to control it.


      Comment by montucky — May 23, 2012 @ 11:33 pm

  2. The first picture grabs me for the photo quality but the most intriguing bloom to me is the one from the Ponderosa Pine. Of course none of these are in “my neck of the woods” so all the more interesting. The silky lupine is my favorite on this post. Lovely, all.


    Comment by Debby — May 23, 2012 @ 8:36 am

    • Conifers seem to have a different philosophy on blooming. I especially like the way the pine blooms, and it’s very visible.

      We certainly live in different climate zones, don’t we!


      Comment by montucky — May 23, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

  3. What great shots. I love the antelope bush and the ponderosa pine. I just ran into a lupine the other day-same color. I hope you have some beneficial rains soon so the plants don’t have to suffer.


    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — May 23, 2012 @ 9:13 am

    • We have had what the weather people call “rainy days” for the last three days, but with a total accumulation of about .3 inches. Hardly enough to do a lot of good for anything more than the shallow-rooted grasses. The cool temperatures are pleasant though.


      Comment by montucky — May 23, 2012 @ 11:39 pm

  4. Hi Montucky, The Pines are familiar to me from my days out West – yes we have Pines aplenty here just not that kind. Nice pictures of the Hawthorn. Have a wonderful day!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — May 23, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

    • I think there’s a species of pine that grows just about anywhere. I remember the Long-leaf pines in North Carolina. They are wonderful trees!


      Comment by montucky — May 23, 2012 @ 11:41 pm

  5. Great photo of the chickweed. I have tried many times to capture their tiny blossoms but my photos always end up blurry….


    Comment by kateri — May 23, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

    • They are hard to photograph. I have difficulty with small blossoms that are yellow or white. I think autofocus just has a hard time finding a contrasting place upon which to focus.


      Comment by montucky — May 23, 2012 @ 11:44 pm

  6. I’ve never seen ponderosa pine before. It’s a very interesting looking plant.


    Comment by Ratty — May 23, 2012 @ 7:44 pm

    • We have huge Ponderosa pine forests here in the west and the Ponderosa only grows in the western half of the U.S. Interestingly, northern Arizona contains one of the largest Ponderosa forests in the country.


      Comment by montucky — May 23, 2012 @ 11:46 pm

  7. Trees from the Revolutionary War – wow. Tall trees. Must be spectacular. Loved hearing about your Hawthorne stick – awesome companion in the wild, for sure.


    Comment by Bo Mackison (@bo_mackison) — May 23, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

    • The longevity of some of the trees here is mind-boggling. For me it puts a lot of nature into perspective. They seem to bridge across history and sometimes the human events seem so puny and trivial compared to the regular and consistent routines of the natural world.

      That old Hawthorn staff will outlast me I’m pretty sure. It also serves as a pretty good monopod too, and almost as steady as a tripod when I rest it across a tree. If need be it will serve as a very effective weapon as well.


      Comment by montucky — May 23, 2012 @ 11:54 pm

  8. The field chickweed photo is so pretty with the very dark background. You make me wonder if the huge pine in our backyard is a Ponderosa. It looks similar to your shots and it’s grown very quickly in the 18 years we’ve lived here. I just read about them on Wikipedia and it seems like it might be. You don’t really think of pines flourishing in Phoenix but it sure has.


    Comment by Candace — May 23, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

    • Northern Arizona contains one of the largest Ponderosa forests in North America which was a surprise when I first learned that, but they don’t do well in the desert area, at least naturally, probably because they require cold stratification for their seeds to germinate. I don’t remember seeing any in the Phoenix area. There is a pine that does very well there though, the Goldwater (or Mondell) pine. You might research it. For a number of years we bought potted Goldwater pines and used them as Christmas trees, then planted them in the yard after the holidays. They did very well and grew very quickly. I have heard that they were originally from Afghanistan and were introduced to Arizona by Goldwater, hence the name. There’s also one called the Aleppo pine that does well in Arizona.


      Comment by montucky — May 24, 2012 @ 12:14 am

      • Yes, I’ve been reading about it, that might very well be what we have. It was small when we moved in and we always figured it had been a Christmas tree originally. I’m sure it’s at least 40 feet tall now. Thanks for the info.


        Comment by Candace — May 26, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

  9. Lovely photos, the blossoms in particular. The pines sound amazing – I love old, tall trees too. The pine cones are awesome!


    Comment by Jo Woolf — May 24, 2012 @ 12:34 am

    • We have the two very old Ponderosas and one much younger that I think came from them. It is a real beauty too, although only about 12 feet tall now.


      Comment by montucky — May 24, 2012 @ 7:16 pm

  10. I love the play of light in the second photo, but those purple pods (?) on the pine are astounding. I love the color and the texture. I’m going to take a closer look at the Norway pines, which I have in abundance here, many are quite old and tall. You mention a Ponderosa forest in N. AZ. I was through the area north of of Payson many years ago, and there are amazing trees there.


    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — May 24, 2012 @ 5:52 am

    • I lived in the Phoenix Valley for over 25 years and spent a lot of time in the area north of Payson. It is/was a beautiful forest, although in the years right before I left there a lot of it was being logged mercilessly, not selectively. I’m not sure I will ever want to go back.


      Comment by montucky — May 24, 2012 @ 7:24 pm

  11. Seeing the hawthorne in bloom makes me wonder if you also have Elderberry, and if we’ll be seeing pics of those blooms soon. BTW, the elderberry is also known as “flutewood” because the natives used to make flutes from the hollowed out pithy-centered stems.

    Are the pines in your neck of the woods succumbing to bark beetles, Montucky? If so, don’t waste any time tacking pheromone packets to the trunks of your two beauties!


    Comment by Kim — May 24, 2012 @ 9:02 am

    • Yes, we do have Elderberry, but it hasn’t bloomed yet. There are a few around here and much more in the higher elevations to the north of us. No beetles locally, but there was a big infestation south of us in the Cherry Peak roadless area in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains a dozen or so years ago. A massive fire cleaned that out pretty well eventually.


      Comment by montucky — May 24, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

  12. This is a great series of spring bloomers…really like the light in the second photo and the lupine! I love the diversity that we have in this country!


    Comment by dhphotosite — May 24, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

    • I love the diversity too. The flowers this spring started out exceptionally well, then it got very dry and lately the bloom have begun to suffer, at least at the valley levels. In the next few weeks I should be able to get into the higher country and hopefully the situation will be much better up there. A couple of nights ago there was fresh snow above 6000 feet and today my son was working near a small town that sits over 5000 feet and he sent me a couple pictures of a snowman he made.


      Comment by montucky — May 24, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

  13. Love these little reminders of late spring. Stunning little flowers!


    Comment by Marcie — May 25, 2012 @ 5:41 am

    • I love the little wildflowers. During the warm half of the year, they could easily serve as calendars for me.


      Comment by montucky — May 25, 2012 @ 10:36 pm

  14. Sigh, so many beautiful flowers. The only one which is in Finland is Cerastium arvense. From this set of photos, I love most of all the second from the top. Light and shadows with black background make it in my eyes top photo.


    Comment by Sartenada — May 26, 2012 @ 2:24 am

    • The broken sunlight on the blossoms was what attracted me to that clump of flowers too. Opportunities like that make wildflower photography really fun!


      Comment by montucky — May 28, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

  15. Keep em coming, Montucky!
    Especially love the lupine. Are you keeping your eyes open for the odd pink or white variants?


    Comment by Kim — May 30, 2012 @ 5:58 pm

    • I haven’t seen the pink here and rarely the white. There is a sulphur one too that should be blooming soon on Camas Prairie.


      Comment by montucky — May 30, 2012 @ 10:29 pm

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