Montana Outdoors

February 9, 2018

Pixi-Cups

Filed under: Lichens — Tags: — montucky @ 12:50 pm

Mixed in among the buttercups yesterday there were a few (just a few) Pixie-cup lichens in their fruiting stage.

Pixie Cup Lichen

Pixie Cup Lichen

Pixie Cup Lichen

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January 22, 2018

Precocious

For about a week now the weather here has been mild for this time of year (nights in the upper 20’s and days just above freezing) and on a hunch because there was a brief period of sunshine today, I made the short but difficult hike up to a favorite winter place I call Buttercup Ridge; a little earlier than in previous years.

The snow was knee deep in places on the climb up to the ridge, but when I reached the ridge top I caught a slight glimpse of yellow in a place between snow drifts and sure enough the first wild flower of 2018 was in full bloom.

Sagebrush buttercup

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

It had a couple friends quite close too, lichens already in their fruiting stage:

Cup lichen

Cup lichen ~ Cladonia pleurota

Lichen

The next two photos show the ridge top itself. The first shows the view to the south across the Clark Fork River and in the second the little flower is barely visible in the lower left.

Buttercup Ridge

Buttercup Ridge

My timing was good. On the return I caught a shot of Baldy Mountain and the deep snow at its summit

Baldy Mountain

and one of a snow storm sweeping in across some foot hills from the Coeur d’Alene Mountains to the southwest.

January snow storm approaching

The incredibly hardy little flower will be covered in several inches of new snow by morning.

February 11, 2016

First wildflower of 2016

Every year about this time the first wildflowers in this part of western Montana begin to bloom, months ahead of the rest. They are Sagebrush Buttercups (Ranunculus glaberrimus) and on a thin ridge that juts out from some cliffs a dozen miles upriver the first of blossom opened today. There was just one today, but in a few sunny days there will be many more. For whatever reason their success strategy tells them to open so early, it works.

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup

The tiny cup lichen are also still doing well and displaying their bright red fruit.

Cup lichen

Cup lichen

Cup lichen

Cup lichen

Cup lichen

January 26, 2016

“Flowers” in January

Filed under: Lichens, Winter — Tags: , , — montucky @ 9:59 pm

The brightest things in the forest today were cup lichens ~ Cladonia pleurota. They are tiny but their fruit is bright red.

Cladonia pleurota ~ lichen

Cladonia pleurota ~ lichen

Cladonia pleurota

Cladonia pleurota ~ lichen

Cladonia pleurota

Cladonia pleurota

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