Montana Outdoors

September 15, 2012

Evans Lake (3) – The Flowers

Somewhat unusual for that part of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains in summer, there were only a few flowers in bloom, perhaps because of the hot, dry conditions this summer.


Indian-Pipe, Monotropa uniflora, a Saprophytic perennial


In a comment, I mentioned the thought that due to the rather mysterious aura of the Indian Pipes, there must be some Indian legends about them. Linda from The Task at Hand has given me permission to include the following legend which she received from a friend:

“According to legend, a long time ago, before selfishness came into the world, the Cherokee people were happy sharing the hunting and fishing places with their neighbors. All this changed when Selfishness came into the world and man began to quarrel. The Cherokee Indians quarreled with tribes on the east. Finally the chiefs of several tribes met in council to try to settle the dispute. They smoked the pipe and continued to quarrel for seven days and seven nights. This displeased the Great Spirit because people are not supposed to smoke the pipe until they make peace. As he looked upon the old men with heads bowed, he decided to do something to remind people to smoke the pipe only at the time they make peace.

The Great Spirit turned the old men into greyish flowers now called ~Indian Pipes~ and he made them grow where friends and relatives had quarreled. He made the smoke hang over these mountains until all the people all over the world learn to live together in peace.”

Thanks Linda!

Western Rattlesnake Plantain

Rattlesnake Plantain, Goodyera oblongifolia, an Orchid

Indian Hellebore

Indian Hellebore, Veratrum viride, a member of the Lily family

Scouler's St. Johnswort, Norton's St. Johnswort

Scouler's St. Johnswort, Norton's St. Johnswort

Scouler’s St. Johnswort, Norton’s St. Johnswort, Hypericum scouleri


Self-Heal, Prunella vulgaris, Mint family

Hooded Ladies'-tresses

Hooded Ladies'-tresses

Hooded Ladies’-tresses, Spiranthes romanzoffiana, an Orchid


  1. I’ve been hanging around long enough now that I recognized the Indian pipe – but the Hooded Ladies’ Tresses were new and a complete delight. The Indian pipe do look a little spooky. That absence of chlorophyll makes a difference!


    Comment by shoreacres — September 15, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

    • To me, the Indian Pipes have a mystery about them. I bet there are some Indian legends if we could find them. The Ladies’ Tresses blossoms are just typical orchids, aren’t they. I love to find them!


      Comment by montucky — September 15, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

  2. You did a great job finding that many wildflowers. The drought was sure hard on the flowers this year!


    Comment by Bo Mackison — September 15, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

    • The drought has been very hard on the plants. This area was not nearly as bad as the lower areas, but still quite dry. Further east, in the Cabinet Mountains it is far worse and there are fires all over. Our valley is dangerously full of smoke from a fire of over 300,000 acres nearly 200 miles to the south and there is no relief in sight. It may take the first snowfall for the fires to go out and the skies to clear.


      Comment by montucky — September 15, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

  3. Thank you! I needed flowers. Indian Pipe is very unusual..


    Comment by Roberta — September 15, 2012 @ 8:31 pm

    • I understand. There is a calming and reassuring quality about wildflowers.


      Comment by montucky — September 15, 2012 @ 10:04 pm

  4. such wonderful images
    i love flowers…..


    Comment by Tammie — September 15, 2012 @ 9:42 pm

    • I love them too. It’s only fall but I am already looking forward to the new blooms that will come next spring.


      Comment by montucky — September 15, 2012 @ 10:05 pm

  5. You sure know your plants! Very nice close-up pictures.


    Comment by wordsfromanneli — September 15, 2012 @ 11:20 pm

    • Actually, I often have difficulty getting the correct ID’s on them, but I have a book that is excellent for this area and also the Burke Museum website. I have a deep love for wildflowers and there are so many species here!


      Comment by montucky — September 15, 2012 @ 11:25 pm

      • You must have a good camera for those clear close-up shots. Nicely done!


        Comment by wordsfromanneli — September 16, 2012 @ 10:23 am

        • Thank you. I have a good close-up lens which I always carry with me. It’s a must to do justice to the flowers.


          Comment by montucky — September 16, 2012 @ 10:51 pm

          • So it’s more than just a macro setting on a regular camera.


            Comment by wordsfromanneli — September 16, 2012 @ 10:54 pm

            • Yes. My camera is a Nikon D-80 and the close-up lens is an AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D.


              Comment by montucky — September 16, 2012 @ 11:28 pm

  6. The Indian Pipe – what a weird plant and what a fitting name! The Hypericum is beautiful, as are the Ladies’ Tresses. Great photos!


    Comment by Jo Woolf — September 16, 2012 @ 1:34 am

    • I love the wildflowers. They are beautiful and amazing living things. We often think we know a lot, but we really know so little about the flower, the hows and whys of them.


      Comment by montucky — September 16, 2012 @ 10:55 pm

  7. The St. John’s Wort is very attractive; makes me want to start taking the herb again…along with a little Self-Heal maybe.


    Comment by Candace — September 16, 2012 @ 2:42 am

    • I don’t know if this species of St. Johnswort is used as an herb or not, probably so. Sure has pretty blossoms though. This one is very low growing, just a few inches high.


      Comment by montucky — September 16, 2012 @ 10:57 pm

  8. Those orchids were a nice find! I’ve been reading about how orchids are very fussy about soil types and where they grow, which is why they’re often rarely seen. I wonder if that Indian Hellebore is poisonous.


    Comment by New Hampshire Gardener — September 16, 2012 @ 5:32 am

    • I love finding the wild orchids. When I first started finding them I was surprised; now I am amazed at how many species there are here and where they grow!

      Yes, the Hellebore is poisonous; all parts of the plant are poisonous to humans and livestock. Even people who have drunk water in which it was growing have reported stomach cramps.


      Comment by montucky — September 16, 2012 @ 11:02 pm

      • I did not know that about Hellebore being poisonous. I think I’m lucky not to have gotten sick from drinking the water.


        Comment by Kim — September 19, 2012 @ 11:34 pm

        • That is something I wouldn’t think about either!


          Comment by montucky — September 20, 2012 @ 8:57 pm

  9. It’s been a stinker of a year for flowers here. Fewer and far less lush than previous years. I hope that doesn’t become the trend. Your photos show them so beautifully, always reminding me what a beautiful and amazing world we live in. Thank you.


    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — September 16, 2012 @ 6:21 am

    • It has been a bad year for the plants here too. Some areas such as this one have fared better because of the dense shade of the forest and the water that has been stored within the watershed from deep snow that we had during the winter. Just about everything in dryer locations has suffered though.


      Comment by montucky — September 16, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

  10. I have never seen an Indian Pipe … pretty …. very “ghostly”.


    Comment by bearyweather — September 16, 2012 @ 7:05 am

    • I’ve found they are common, but not at all plentiful. I usually see only a few each year.


      Comment by montucky — September 16, 2012 @ 11:10 pm

  11. It’s magical what you share… especially that Indian Pipe. Is there ever a moment in those mountains that you don’t enjoy?


    Comment by kcjewel — September 16, 2012 @ 7:15 am

    • It’s magical what is out in the back country. No, there isn’t a single moment out there that I don’t enjoy. Once I step onto one of those trails or enter the roadless areas, my heart is just full of joy; a feeling that is hard to describe.


      Comment by montucky — September 16, 2012 @ 11:13 pm

  12. Terry:

    I thought Indian Pipe only grew on the East coast (NJ) as I remember seeing it there near my parents’ home when I was a boy.



    Comment by Kinzel, Charles H. — September 16, 2012 @ 9:23 am

    • My first though was that they might be quite limited in range too, but actually they are native to all but 8 of our states, the drier ones. I’ve seen them only in the more moist climes and not all that many either.


      Comment by montucky — September 16, 2012 @ 11:14 pm

  13. Hi Montucky, I sure love those flowers! Many are unusual looking but are lovely, non-the-less. My favorite of your series here, would be the Self-heal. Have an excellent coming week and enjoy your views on the walks.


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — September 16, 2012 @ 11:18 am

    • Self-heal is an interesting plant, isn’t it. We have had it growing on our place in an area that has been left completely natural. Then, a few years ago I brought back some forest mulch composed mostly of decomposed fir needles and duff from the cedars. Apparently there were seeds in it too and one of our flower beds now has a nice stand if Self-heal in it.


      Comment by montucky — September 16, 2012 @ 11:18 pm

  14. We are definitely low on flowers here due to the drought. Lovely photo of the Indian pipes. We have a different variety of St. John’s wort–the leaves look a bit different.


    Comment by kateri — September 16, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

    • The early blooming flowers in the lower elevations here did quite well, but then the rain stopped and the later blooming ones have not done well. There are many species that I didn’t see at all this summer. The higher elevations, particularly on the northern slopes of the mountains have done fairly well because they held some of the deep winter snow until well into summer.


      Comment by montucky — September 16, 2012 @ 11:21 pm

  15. Great photos Montucky…sure hope you folks get some kind of moisture soon!!!


    Comment by dhphotosite — September 17, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

    • I hope so too, but the way it looks, the next moisture we get might be the white kind!


      Comment by montucky — September 17, 2012 @ 8:18 pm

  16. That is the neatest looking Indian Pipe I have ever seen. The ones I find always look brown and gone by. Love the story!
    You still have quite a lot blooming up there in the high land. We are turning toward autumn here, very quickly now.


    Comment by sandy — September 17, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

    • That’s the nicest I’ve seen too. We’re seeing some red and yellow now too, and I haven’t even been into the high country for a couple of weeks. Our nights are in the 30’s and we’ve had two in the 20’s already.


      Comment by montucky — September 17, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

  17. Those Indian pipes are something I wish I could get to see but they only grow in far east Texas, hundreds of miles from Austin. We do have a species of Spiranthes here that typically flowers in November and that I’m hoping this past weekend’s rain will help along; I couldn’t find a single one last year, presumably because of the drought.


    Comment by Steve Schwartzman — September 17, 2012 @ 11:36 pm

    • I don’t encounter them very often and always unexpectedly, so I count them as a pleasant bonus. They require a quite moist ecology, and the north slopes of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains are well suited for them.


      Comment by montucky — September 18, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

  18. The Indian pipes are remarkable. At first glance I thought it was a fungus, but it’s a plant with little or no chlorophyll, so I guess it gets all its nutrients through saprophytic activity. What is it living on?

    Your self heal is a lovely shot too. We have the same plant (Prunella vulgaris) growing in the fields here in Cambridge.


    Comment by Finn Holding — September 18, 2012 @ 2:11 am

    • We have three saprophytes in this area and I have encountered all three this summer. I can’t get used to the idea that they can exist with no sunlight. I don’t know specifically what they live on but where I find them it is moist, usually dark and has a deep layer of humus made mostly of the duff from firs and cedars, always in deep heavily wooded canyons that have year-long streams running through them.


      Comment by montucky — September 18, 2012 @ 8:33 pm

  19. Loved the legend of the Indian Pipes. Great photos, as always, Montucky!


    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — September 18, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

  20. Gorgeous flowers- Indian Pipes are awesome!


    Comment by Watching Seasons — September 18, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

    • There were few flowers blooming that trip, but some of my favorites, saprophytes and orchids.


      Comment by montucky — September 18, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

  21. the Indian Pipe is interesting and I like the story to go w/ it!


    Comment by skouba — September 18, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

    • I’ve liked the Indian-pipes, but now the legend will make them very special whenever I encounter them!


      Comment by montucky — September 18, 2012 @ 8:36 pm

  22. I love Your series of flowers. The only flower among them is Prunella vulgaris which is here in Finland. I love also the Indian Pipe. Thank You also for the legend.


    Comment by Sartenada — September 20, 2012 @ 11:20 pm

    • I find it interesting that Prunella is so widespread. I think it deserves to be. I like the legend too and I’m glad that Linda passed it on to us!


      Comment by montucky — September 21, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

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