Montana Outdoors

May 19, 2013

An hour on the Spring Creek trail

A little spare time in the late afternoon, a short drive, cool green shade and flowers.

Scarlet Indian Paintbrush

Scarlet Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja miniata


Kinnikinnik, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Howell's pussytoes

Howell’s pussytoes, Antennaria howellii

Woodland Strawberry

Woodland Strawberry, Fragaria vesca

Yellow Coralroot

Yellow Coralroot, Corallorhiza trifida

This encounter made my day! It was the first time that I’ve encountered this saprophytic orchid. Its greenish tinge suggests that it may be capable of manufacturing at least a part of its food to supplement its normal diet of decaying organic material.

Smallflower Miterwort

Smallflower Miterwort, Mitella stauropetala

Heart-leaf Arnica

Heart-leaf Arnica, Arnica cordifolia

Early Blue Violet

Early Blue Violet, Viola adunca

Star-flowered Solomon's-seal

Star-flowered Solomon’s-seal, Maianthemum stellatum

Feathery False Lily-of-the-valley

Feathery False Lily-of-the-valley, maianthemum racemosum

Western Gromwell

Western Gromwell, Lithospermum ruderale


  1. Score! I love the miterwort – they are magical.


    Comment by Tammy — May 19, 2013 @ 10:18 pm

  2. Lovely images (especially as I recognise some of the names from my Herbal Medicine studies many years ago).
    Are you using a flash of some sort, to get that lovely detail and light?


    Comment by Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) — May 19, 2013 @ 10:18 pm

    • Thanks Vicki. I used the on-camera flash for the miterwort to get enough depth of field to keep that many blossoms in focus. The rest were taken with natural light, walking the tightrope of a very shallow depth of field with a wide aperture because of the dim light under a canopy of tall firs and cedars. The 60mm macro lens provides the detail I think.


      Comment by montucky — May 19, 2013 @ 10:51 pm

  3. You did an amazing job of capturing the real beauty of the trail.


    Comment by Charlie@Seattle Trekker — May 19, 2013 @ 10:43 pm

    • Thanks. That’s an amazing trail, such a beautiful place. There is lush vegetation and the light conditions vary from small patches of sunlight to deep, dark shade and you always have to pay a little attention to what’s around you too because black bears travel through there frequently and it’s not too good to run into one with new cubs this time of year.


      Comment by montucky — May 19, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

  4. Amazing, yet again! I am running out of adjectives! The tiny orchid is absolutely exquisite, and the Indian Paintbrush is so well named. Well done for finding them – you must have been so happy! Your photos are just a delight.


    Comment by Jo Woolf — May 20, 2013 @ 1:56 am

    • Thanks Jo. The wildflowers are a real bright part of spring and summer here. The forests and the mountains are beautiful, but the flowers are highlights.


      Comment by montucky — May 20, 2013 @ 9:05 pm

  5. The coralroot is quite a find, and quite beautiful, as is the mitrewort. That’s a plant I keep hoping to see. I just saw a star flowered Solomon’s seal yesterday. I’ve never heard the false Solomon’s seal called Feathery False Lily-of-the-valley so I had to look it up. I think it’s the same one we have, but ours isn’t blooming yet. I know we have bear berry (Kinnikinnik) here, but it’s rarely seen. Thanks for a great post!


    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — May 20, 2013 @ 4:37 am

    • I’ve read that the yellow coralroot is the most common of the coralroots, but this is the only one I’ve seen. I suspect that the mitrewort is generally overlooked because at a casual glance it can pass for simply a dead blade of tall grass. Kinnikinnik is abundant here. It covers many hillsides in the high country and is plentiful at lower elevations too.

      I have not found any agreement about the common names of many of the wildflowers. I use USDA Plants website some and the Burke Museum site a lot because it deals specifically with plants in the Pacific northwest and overlaps into this area as well, and a book on plants that originated out of British Columbia and we are in the southern part of that ecosystem. The common names vary all over the place. I suppose that by the nature of a “common name”, it will always be idiomatic. I’m always tripping over the Solomon seals and the lillys-of-the-valley.


      Comment by montucky — May 20, 2013 @ 9:19 pm

  6. Lovely, lovely, lovely! My favorite this time: Smallflower Miterwort. So sweet, so beautiful, I have never seen anything like this plant.


    Comment by bentehaarstad — May 20, 2013 @ 5:18 am

    • The miterwort is about the size of a tall blade of grass and the individual blossoms are only about an eighth of an inch (.3175 CM) across. I am also fascinated by the design of the blossom.


      Comment by montucky — May 20, 2013 @ 9:25 pm

  7. I thought the Kinnikinnik was the best name ever, until I got to Howell’s pussytoes. Interesting that those little “thingies” sticking out on the pussytoes looks so much like the “thingies” on the flowers of the spiderwort. Even the Solomon’s seal and feathery false lily-of-the-valley have those little spikey things. I’m wondering if it’s some sort of adaptation for their environment. Perhaps we have similar flowers and I’ve just never noticed.


    Comment by shoreacres — May 20, 2013 @ 5:42 am

    • I constantly wonder about the design of wildflower blossoms. I’m confident that there is a successful strategy in there somewhere and I’d just love to know what it is. My only guess would be that it caters to the functions of the plant’s pollinators.


      Comment by montucky — May 20, 2013 @ 9:29 pm

  8. Wow — what a diversity of blooms. Your season is way ahead of ours.


    Comment by Sue — May 20, 2013 @ 6:44 am

    • There is a large number of wildflower species here and my wanderings only cover about a thousand square miles. I have identified over 230 species and I know I have missed scores more.


      Comment by montucky — May 20, 2013 @ 9:33 pm

  9. Pretty, pretty all along the trail, esp the 2nd one… sooo neat =)


    Comment by Tricia — May 20, 2013 @ 7:00 am

    • That plant is one of the first ones I learned about when I was a kid and I have loved it ever since.


      Comment by montucky — May 20, 2013 @ 9:39 pm

  10. I’m sorry that “beautiful” is such an overused word, but it applies again to your wonderful photos.


    Comment by wordsfromanneli — May 20, 2013 @ 7:01 am

    • Thanks Anneli. I try my best to capture the natural beauty of the blossoms.


      Comment by montucky — May 20, 2013 @ 9:41 pm

  11. Wow this is such a diverse group of wildflowers. It must be a magical place you went to. And your photos are superb!


    Comment by dhphotosite — May 20, 2013 @ 8:05 am

    • These were all within a mile section of that trail which varied in elevation from about 2600 feet to 3100 feet. I wonder why there are so many species and what all it takes to keep that natural balance.


      Comment by montucky — May 20, 2013 @ 9:47 pm

  12. Hi Montucky, All are lovely but I do think that Arnica is spectacular! Have a super good day today!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — May 20, 2013 @ 9:57 am

    • I agree that Arnica has a lovely blossom. It has a very wholesome look to it.


      Comment by montucky — May 20, 2013 @ 9:48 pm

  13. I have Maianthemum racemosa on my place, but all my books call it False Solomon’s Seal. It has not yet bloomed here though. It’s buddy M. canadense has though. My books call that one False lily-of-the-valley, and Canada mayflower.


    Comment by jomegat — May 20, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

    • There seems to be a lot of confusion about Solomon’s Seal types and Lily-of-the Valley types as far as common names go. I see little agreement about common names in the sources that I use, and I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising because the idiomatic character of a common name. Fortunately, the scientific names are exact.


      Comment by montucky — May 20, 2013 @ 9:54 pm

  14. I have some catching up to do here and it appears you have hit the mother lode of wildflowers. My fondness of bell shaped flowers draws me to the Kinnikinnik, but that little orchid is stunning!


    Comment by kcjewel — May 20, 2013 @ 7:12 pm

    • The variety I think was a result of timing. There will be many more along the same piece of trail as summer goes by. In fact I plan to visit that trail again tomorrow because I saw what looked like a blossom developing on an interesting plant and I wonder what it will become.


      Comment by montucky — May 20, 2013 @ 9:57 pm

  15. That’s an excellent collection of wildflowers you’ve presented here. You must be florally happy.


    Comment by Steve Schwartzman — May 20, 2013 @ 10:25 pm

    • I’m always happy when the wildflowers are blooming. I was a little surprised at the variety along that small stretch of trail though.


      Comment by montucky — May 20, 2013 @ 10:29 pm

  16. Such a huge variety of wildflowers you’ve shown us in just the last few days! The miterworts are so delicate and detailed.


    Comment by Candace — May 20, 2013 @ 11:12 pm

    • This country just explodes with flowers this time of year. I’m awestruck by their beauty and variety, humbled because we know so little about them, and sad that we provide no measures to protect them.


      Comment by montucky — May 21, 2013 @ 12:01 am

  17. You know what? I can’t pick a favorite because I like each and every one. Thanks for showing us these little wonders.


    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — May 21, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

    • Yes, it’s hard to pick a favorite from among the wildflowers. Each is like a little miracle and each, I suppose, has its own purpose.


      Comment by montucky — May 21, 2013 @ 8:44 pm

  18. Beautiful springtime…very nice photos, Terry.


    Comment by seekraz — May 21, 2013 @ 9:44 pm

  19. Great post Terry. I enjoyed seeing such an amount of beautiful flowers. Nearly all of them are unknown, but Fragaria vesca is very common here. We collect it and eat them with milk and sugar.


    Comment by Sartenada — May 23, 2013 @ 11:21 pm

    • Thank you Matti. The strawberries are still in blossom now: I can hardly wait for the berries!


      Comment by montucky — May 24, 2013 @ 9:18 pm

  20. These wildflowers are amazing and you captured them beautifully !


    Comment by Inspired and pretty — May 24, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

    • Thank you. I will never tire of the beauty of the wildflowers.


      Comment by montucky — May 25, 2013 @ 9:29 pm

  21. Oh, these are lovely! I like the clarity of the small details in your macro shots.


    Comment by Fergiemoto — May 25, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

    • Thanks! I think that in these tiny flowers the details are critical.


      Comment by montucky — May 25, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

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