Montana Outdoors

May 11, 2014

Early May wildflowers.

In spite of a cold spring and below normal rainfall here in western Montana, the wildflowers are blooming, but about two weeks later than usual. This morning there was fresh snow on the mountainsides a thousand feet above the valley floor.

Western Gromwell, Lemonweed

Western Gromwell, Lemonweed ~ Lithospermum ruderale

Western Serviceberry, Saskatoon

Western Serviceberry, Saskatoon ~ Amelanchier alnifolia

Field Pepperweed, Field Peppergrass or Pepperwort, Field Cress

Field Pepperweed, Field Peppergrass or Pepperwort, Field Cress ~ Lepidium campestre

Fairy Slipper, Calypso orchid

Fairy Slipper, Calypso orchid ~ Calypso bulbosa

Marsh Valerian, Northern Valerian

Marsh Valerian, Northern Valerian ~ Valeriana dioica

Hooker Fairy-bells

Hooker Fairy-bells ~ Prosartes hookeri


Kinnikinnik ~ Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Field Chickweed

Field Chickweed ~ Cerastium arvense

Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Arrowleaf Balsamroot ~ Balsamorhiza sagittata

Black Hawthorn

Black Hawthorn ~ Crataegus douglasii

Holboell's rockcress

Holboell’s rockcress ~ Boechera pendulocarpa

Menzies' fiddleneck

Menzies’ fiddleneck ~ Amsinckia menziesii

Meadow death-camas

Meadow death-camas ~ Toxicoscordion venenosum

Large-flowered Tritelia

Large-flowered Tritelia ~ Triteleia grandiflora


  1. And all this within sight of the snow. Brrrr! but Beautiful.


    Comment by wordsfromanneli — May 11, 2014 @ 11:38 pm

    • They are small, but very hardy. It was 29º here last night.


      Comment by montucky — May 12, 2014 @ 7:18 am

      • Ohhh, that’s cool for this time of year. It’s not that warm here right now either, but better than 29. We have 52 F (11 C). It should be up in the 70s and 80s (F). But your tough little flowers look great. That early bit of colour is always cheery and hopeful.


        Comment by wordsfromanneli — May 12, 2014 @ 8:03 am

        • We should hit the middle 60’s today, which is about normal for this time of year. I thought we were past the freezing nights, but apparently not quite yet.


          Comment by montucky — May 12, 2014 @ 9:14 am

  2. Beautiful shots of flowers we don’t see in Ohio!


    Comment by centralohionature — May 12, 2014 @ 3:27 am

    • Some of these, like the Arrowleaf are widespread here, others, very spread out and still others fairly rare.


      Comment by montucky — May 12, 2014 @ 7:19 am

  3. They are very nice, and so many!


    Comment by bentehaarstad — May 12, 2014 @ 4:28 am

    • Yes. I’ve always wondered why so many different species. Perhaps simply because of a large variety of soil and climate conditions.


      Comment by montucky — May 12, 2014 @ 7:20 am

  4. It’s looking like we might be in for a cool, dry summer. I love the fairy slipper orchid. I haven’t seen a single orchid here yet.
    Your wildflowers are really very different than ours. The name Toxicoscordion venenosum tells me all I need to know about the death camas!


    Comment by New Hampshire Gardener — May 12, 2014 @ 4:37 am

    • That’s the first orchid to bloom here in the spring. The danger with the Death Camas is that its bulbs look nearly identical to those of the common Blue Camas, which was a food staple of the early Indian tribes. They had to harvest the bulbs while the plants were in bloom to be sure.


      Comment by montucky — May 12, 2014 @ 7:23 am

  5. Beautiful shots, Terry. Love the Slipper Orchid.
    Excellent focus and light.


    Comment by Vicki — May 12, 2014 @ 5:50 am

    • That little orchid is usually overlooked. It likes to grow in thin forests, but under most other shrubs and grasses. To get photos of it that day I had to spread the grasses and woody stalks around it to have an open shot and they are only about 4 inches tall. Usually photographed from the prone position.


      Comment by montucky — May 12, 2014 @ 7:25 am

  6. Just beautiful. So glad the wildflower show has begun up there. We are really starting to dry out and expect temps close to 100 this week. Ugh! Lots of wildflowers many much smaller in stature than usual but they are there for those who take the time to look.


    Comment by anniespickns — May 12, 2014 @ 6:07 am

    • That’s about how it is here, although our temperatures are much lower. We are still seeing some freezing nights and daytime temps still in the 60’s.


      Comment by montucky — May 12, 2014 @ 7:26 am

  7. So very beautiful. I feel as if I can almost brush off those droplets. The orchid is gorgeous!


    Comment by Jo Woolf — May 12, 2014 @ 6:53 am

    • Our wildflowers are very small and most are quite sparse, but I think they are worth looking closely for. They are a fascination for me. I’ve cataloged over 200 different species in just the small area of about 1500 square miles through which I roam. I know there are many more in the southern and eastern parts of the state.


      Comment by montucky — May 12, 2014 @ 7:29 am

  8. What a nice spring collection: too bad you can’t get paid what clothing designers do for their spring collections.


    Comment by Steve Schwartzman — May 12, 2014 @ 9:06 am

  9. Looking good even if they are late. I think I like those Fairy Bells — they look dainty.


    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — May 12, 2014 @ 4:04 pm

    • They are quite small and fragile and they hide among the larger brush, but the flowers somehow are quite visible.


      Comment by montucky — May 13, 2014 @ 7:07 pm

  10. Do you know if your pepperweed is edible? The Lepidium we have here (L. virginicum) is edible, and as the name suggests, very peppery! In the common vernacular they call it “Poor man’s pepper”.


    Comment by jomegat — May 12, 2014 @ 7:06 pm

    • I don’t know if it is or not. I couldn’t find this in the only book I have that tells whether a plant is edible or not.


      Comment by montucky — May 13, 2014 @ 7:07 pm

  11. oh my goodness, you are in our future
    we do not have all these flowers yet, fairy slippers are just budding
    such gorgeous captures!


    Comment by Tammie — May 12, 2014 @ 8:27 pm

    • And I thought we were late here. By now, the flowers are more than ready to bloom. Just a few more sunny days. We even had a little rain to ehlp them out!


      Comment by montucky — May 13, 2014 @ 7:08 pm

  12. Love those fairly slippers every year and the kinnikinnik. So pretty!


    Comment by Candace — May 12, 2014 @ 9:42 pm

    • Each year I look forward to those, among many others, that set the mood for spring and summer. I know it may sound funny to you, but we are supposed to get an 80 degree day this coming week!


      Comment by montucky — May 13, 2014 @ 7:10 pm

      • We had 80 degree days over the weekend and it was wonderful!!!!!


        Comment by Candace — May 13, 2014 @ 9:43 pm

        • I remember what that was like there too! Used to get all of the hard outdoor work done on the 80 degree days!


          Comment by montucky — May 13, 2014 @ 10:33 pm

  13. Oh, my heavens, these are gorgeous. But, that kinnikinnik is mesmerizing to me. They say Garden of Eden.


    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — May 12, 2014 @ 10:14 pm

    • That’s one of my favorites. It is evergreen, quite widespread in the mid to high elevations and the bright red berries are food for wildlife, especially grouse. I find them tasteless, but they are nourishing.


      Comment by montucky — May 13, 2014 @ 7:11 pm

  14. All flowers are improved by a droplet or two of rain. And I had to smile at the spider web on the fairy slipper. Some little creature’s been busy! The variety really is astounding. The names are interesting, too. I love the kinnikinnik, and I also noted the “toxi” is the death camus’ scientific name. Thanks for the explanation.


    Comment by shoreacres — May 13, 2014 @ 8:16 am

    • The little wildflowers certainly do attract the attention of insects and hence spiders. It’s an interesting part of their study. The Death Camas really is deadly: I hate to think about how that was first discovered! The clay tablet on which the death certificate of one of the very early Indians probably read: “Something he ate disagreed with him”.


      Comment by montucky — May 13, 2014 @ 7:15 pm

  15. Gorgeous mountain plants you have, Montucky!


    Comment by Watching Seasons — May 15, 2014 @ 8:43 am

    • They really are beautiful, aren’t they! Most are tiny and somewhat elusive, but well worth finding and appreciating, I believe, and although I don’t know what it is, but I think they each have a purpose.


      Comment by montucky — May 15, 2014 @ 7:19 pm

  16. Hi Montucky, Gosh, what a bunch (pardon that pun) of flowers! I don’t know which of the photographs I like the best. I think all of these blossoms are quite delicate and lovely! You are a wonderful photographer. Have a really excellent day tomorrow!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — May 15, 2014 @ 1:24 pm

    • Thank you! I’m glad you enjoy seeing them because I love them very much. Have a great weekend!


      Comment by montucky — May 15, 2014 @ 7:20 pm

  17. Awesome flower series. My favorite is Calypso orchid.


    Comment by Sartenada — May 16, 2014 @ 12:52 am

    • I like the Calypso too. It was the first wild orchid that I found here many years ago.


      Comment by montucky — May 16, 2014 @ 4:19 pm

  18. Amazing work Terry !!


    Comment by Bernie Kasper — May 19, 2014 @ 7:00 am

    • Thanks Bernie. These were all local, blooming at low elevations.


      Comment by montucky — May 19, 2014 @ 7:37 pm

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