Montana Outdoors

February 5, 2013

The first…

Filed under: Wildflowers, Winter — Tags: , — montucky @ 9:18 pm

This afternoon I hiked up to Buttercup Ridge to check on the buttercups. The two plants that had flower buds a week ago still looked just the same, but when I wandered a hundred feet or so further up the ridge, this one was in full bloom. Interestingly, the first blooms there in 2011 were also on February 5th.Β 

Sagebrush buttercup


  1. I’m sensing a blooming trend with these flowers!



    Comment by Malcolm R. Campbell — February 5, 2013 @ 9:20 pm

    • I’m beginning to suspect that too. It has been quite consistent for the last four years in that one small location.


      Comment by montucky — February 5, 2013 @ 11:06 pm

  2. It seems so early, but always a good day when the first bloom appears. Wonder what elevation you’re finding these sweet buttercups?


    Comment by Bo Mackison (@bo_mackison) — February 5, 2013 @ 9:28 pm

    • They are on a small, narrow ridge above the Clark Fork river. The elevation of the river there is about 2400 feet and the ridge is about 200 feet higher. The mountains along both sides of the river top out at around 7000 feet, and the snow line now is not much more than a thousand feet higher than the ridge.


      Comment by montucky — February 5, 2013 @ 11:11 pm

  3. An early spring perhaps?


    Comment by twoscamps — February 5, 2013 @ 9:30 pm

    • Hard to say. I hope not because we still need a lot of snow in the higher elevations, and at least a lot more moisture at the valley level.


      Comment by montucky — February 5, 2013 @ 11:12 pm

  4. The first things I generally see in bloom in NH are the cultivated crocuses. I’d love to stumble on some buttercups in the wild though.


    Comment by jomegat — February 5, 2013 @ 9:43 pm

    • The crocuses are the first out here too, except for in that one small location.


      Comment by montucky — February 5, 2013 @ 11:15 pm

  5. I love finding the first blooms. It’s like when I lived up north and when the snow started melting it was a big deal to find the first patch of bare ground, especially if there were pebbles. They were so bright and polished looking because of the water running over them – as if they’d been in a rock polisher. That buttercup looks extra beautiful because of the date.


    Comment by wordsfromanneli — February 5, 2013 @ 9:51 pm

    • I have started looking forward to those early flowers. They are my version of the groundhog as a forecaster of spring and they work out about equally well too.


      Comment by montucky — February 5, 2013 @ 11:17 pm

  6. Thank you for that splendid bit of color. It gives me hope. πŸ™‚


    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — February 5, 2013 @ 10:13 pm

    • You know, I think that may be the mission of these very early flowers. Beauty at the end of winter, rather like the rainbow at the end of a storm.


      Comment by montucky — February 5, 2013 @ 11:28 pm

  7. That’s such a welcome sight! Amazing that they are blooming on the same day as last year.


    Comment by Jo Woolf — February 6, 2013 @ 1:10 am

    • This tiny place is amazing. The rest of the area around here will not have blossoms for about another month.


      Comment by montucky — February 6, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

  8. The first…and may there be many more…soon!
    Snow is absolutely beautiful but, I must admit, I love warm weather much better.


    Comment by Mary Strong-Spaid — February 6, 2013 @ 1:33 am

    • I always look forward to seeing wildflowers. These early buttercups area really a tease because there won’t be more wildflowers in bloom for over a month. Then many more species will begin.


      Comment by montucky — February 6, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

  9. I’d love to know what it is about that spot. It’s nice to see something blooming, no matter what the cause.


    Comment by New Hampshire Gardener — February 6, 2013 @ 5:17 am

    • I can’t rule out anything, but I think it is just a uniquely sheltered spot that catches every bit of available sun at just the right angle to make it nearly perpendicular this time of year. It also seems to be sheltered from the wind. I’ve also wondered if it is because it has been fertilized by the Big Horn sheep?!


      Comment by montucky — February 6, 2013 @ 9:27 pm

      • Rotting manure is the main component in a hot frame because it gives off heat as it decomposes. Manure would also make for an overall healthier plant.


        Comment by New Hampshire Gardener — February 7, 2013 @ 5:18 am

  10. This must have been a wonderful sight! πŸ™‚


    Comment by bentehaarstad — February 6, 2013 @ 5:51 am

    • It really is, seeing that first bright color of the new year!


      Comment by montucky — February 6, 2013 @ 9:27 pm

  11. nice reward for a nice hike


    Comment by skouba — February 6, 2013 @ 9:23 am

    • Yes, it is. I find a reward in every hike I take here, of one kind or other.


      Comment by montucky — February 6, 2013 @ 9:28 pm

      • Of one kind or another…. πŸ™‚ Wonderful perspective, Terry….


        Comment by seekraz — February 6, 2013 @ 10:21 pm

  12. I certainly understand that desire to have more snow and the moisture it brings.I saw something, somewhere, today suggesting the next big storm may bring helpful snows to the midwest – the sort that can help to protect the land.

    The flower is so pretty. Out of curiosity, do you know what that spikey thing is that’s tucked up next to the bottom leaf? I see the other buttercup plants beginning to develop, but that other little bit looks like something unrelated.


    Comment by shoreacres — February 6, 2013 @ 10:04 pm

    • I have no idea what that thing is. When I blow the photo way up I see several similar, but that one seems to have gotten larger, then suffered frost damage on the tips of the leaves/spikes. There are all kinds of small plants beginning to grow and spread out now but I don’t think any are of the flowering kind.


      Comment by montucky — February 6, 2013 @ 10:55 pm

  13. A sigh of relief! The first blooms were on the same day last year and not a month earlier or some other depressing evidence of global warming. Thank you!


    Comment by Tammy — February 6, 2013 @ 10:14 pm

    • I reviewed my photo archives and found that I discovered the early blossoms in that place in 2009 when they were in bloom on Feb. 13. In 2010, Feb 7; in 2011 Feb 5; in 2012 Feb 28, and in 2013 Feb 5. Quite regularly also, they start to bloom elsewhere after the first of March.


      Comment by montucky — February 6, 2013 @ 11:03 pm

  14. Could the ground be warmer there, somehow…subsurface thermal vent kind of thing? πŸ˜‰

    Lovely little flower….


    Comment by seekraz — February 6, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

    • I also love all of the other detail in the photo…all of that “stuff” that is the ground out there…like notes from Nature’s song laying about….


      Comment by seekraz — February 6, 2013 @ 10:23 pm

    • I can’t rule that out, but I see no visible signs of thermal venting. I’ve been there when there was a snow cover and it appeared about the same as everything around the area.


      Comment by montucky — February 6, 2013 @ 11:06 pm

      • There is a lot of new plant activity throughout the area. Whatever stimulates the buttercups to bloom early seem to stimulate other growth as well.


        Comment by montucky — February 6, 2013 @ 11:08 pm

      • Yeah…maybe I was grasping….


        Comment by seekraz — February 11, 2013 @ 8:20 pm

  15. I’m amazed that Montana has flowering plants in February. I know it is primarily due to aspect, but I still find this to be incredible. Wondering who would pollinate the flower??? And still, what a beautiful item to see in winter!


    Comment by WildBill — February 7, 2013 @ 5:53 am

    • It has been an interesting situation. I have seen insects around, but I’m not sure they are pollinators. I’ve seen very tiny black ones on three feet of snow too.


      Comment by montucky — February 7, 2013 @ 9:29 pm

  16. What an awesome find to share, brightens up my day and promises Spring IS around the corner! πŸ™‚


    Comment by bayphotosbydonna — February 7, 2013 @ 7:42 am

    • If spring will be that soon this year it will not be good for the forests. We still need some heavy snows in the next six months to provide the right amount of anow pack.


      Comment by montucky — February 7, 2013 @ 9:30 pm

  17. I am amazed at you finding flowers this time of year
    it has been warm here too, but of course i have a foot of snow still in my yard
    not in town WF is nearly pavement
    such a sweet and perfect flower you have found!
    i also enjoyed looking at the posts i have missed.


    Comment by Tammie — February 7, 2013 @ 5:07 pm

    • Along this part of the lower Clark Fork, there is hardly any snow below 4000 feet now, and it is raining tonight.


      Comment by montucky — February 7, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

  18. Hi Montucky, Wonderful photo of that beautiful little yellow bloom. Have a fantastic weekend!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — February 7, 2013 @ 7:55 pm

  19. Very nice photo. We have some buttercups, but I am not if they are same than You have there. In Latin they are called “Ranunculus acris”. I love the background story You gave here.


    Comment by Sartenada — February 8, 2013 @ 12:39 am

    • We do have Ranunculus acris here: they are not native, but they were introduced from Europe.


      Comment by montucky — February 8, 2013 @ 10:33 pm

  20. I like that they are such resilient little things.


    Comment by Candace — February 8, 2013 @ 8:14 pm

    • They really are. It seems that buttercups are more tolerant of cold than of heat, because most species of them bloom only in early spring.


      Comment by montucky — February 8, 2013 @ 10:36 pm

  21. so sweet… are they about the size of a quarter?


    Comment by kcjewel — February 11, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

    • Slightly smaller, nickel sized, but as the only bright color around, they command your attention!


      Comment by montucky — February 11, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

  22. Very cool- that’s an early bloomer for sure!


    Comment by Watching Seasons — March 2, 2013 @ 9:25 pm

    • They always bloom early in that little place. I haven’t seen one anywhere else yet this year.


      Comment by montucky — March 2, 2013 @ 11:08 pm

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