Montana Outdoors

May 18, 2017

New arrivals…


Ground-ivy ~ Glechoma hederacea

Rocky Mountain groundsel

Rocky Mountain groundsel ~ Packera streptanthifolia

Ponderosa Pine

Ponderosa Pine ~ Pinus ponderosa

Large-flowered Tritelia

Large-flowered Tritelia ~ Triteleia grandiflora

Fern-leaved Desert-parsley

Fern-leaved Desert-parsley ~ Lomatium dissectum

Oregon boxleaf

Oregon Boxleaf ~ Paxistima myrsinites

Western Blue Clematis

Western Blue Clematis ~ Clematis occidentalis

White Campion in the rain

White Campion ~ Silene latifolia

January 6, 2017


Filed under: Trees — Tags: , — montucky @ 12:25 pm

As a counterbalance to arrogance, in yourself or in others, just look up at the trees.


This tall pine is easily more than two hundred years older than we are.

May 22, 2012

More May blossoms

Antelope Bush

The blossoms of Antelope Bush, Purshia tridentata. It is somewhat similar in appearance to sagebrush and is a very important food source for deer during the most harsh parts of winter.

Black Hawthorn

Black Hawthorn

Black Hawthorn, Crataegus douglasii. This grows as a large deciduous shrub to a small tree with very nasty thorns. It bears fruit that looks very similar to Serviceberry and it’s edible but neither good tasting nor juicy. The name “Crataegus” is from the Greek “largos”, ‘strength”, because of the great strength of the wood. On my hikes into the back country I always carry the 63-inch long staff of Hawthorn that I have had for many years now and over the several thousand miles it has accompanied me in those years it has helped me through some serious back country situations. Once I cut it, I carefully peeled the bark from it and began applying hand-rubbed coats of linseed oil. It probably has 80 coats now and is in every bit as good condition as when I first cut it.

Ponderosa Pine

Ponderosa Pine

Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa. Allergy sufferers beware: look at the pollen in the second photo! This pine can grow to be 100 feet tall and 4.5 feet in diameter and can live for up to 600 years. We share the property where we live with two mature Ponderosas and I’m constantly in awe at standing next to trees that were probably close to a hundred feet tall when the Revolutionary War was under way.

Silky Lupine

Silky Lupine, Lupinus sericeus. Pretty blossoms, but only a little over half their normal size because of lack of enough precipitation for the last month or so. We have had lots of clouds and showers that had very little rain in them. I’ve seen the same thing with many of the flowers that are now getting into their blooming season.

Field Chickweed

Field Chickweed, Cerastium arvense

June 5, 2010

Very important “flowers”.

Filed under: Trees — Tags: , , , , — montucky @ 10:49 pm

The Ponderosa pines in our area are now “flowering” and the air at times can seem like it’s full of pollen. For those not familiar with them, Ponderosas are very large trees which can grow up to 150 feet tall and over 4 feet in diameter and which have life-spans of up to 600 years. Ponderosa forests provide important winter ranges for many species of wildlife including deer, elk and Big Horn sheep and the seeds are used by birds and small mammals. They produce a light softwood which has been widely used in home construction.

Their “flowers” are quite distinctive and are not actually flowers at all but cones, and these trees are monoecious which means that each tree has both male and female reproductive units. (A cone is an organ on coniferous trees that contains the reproductive structures.) The male cones produce pollen and the female cones produce seeds.

Ponderosa PineMale cones are yellow-red, cylindrical, in clusters near ends of branches.

Ponderosa PineFemale cones are reddish at branch tips.

Ponderosa Pine

Interestingly, although they are quite distinctive, the pine “flowers” often go unnoticed by many folks who actually live around the trees.

October 3, 2008

Trail of the big pines

During the summer I heard of a new trail being created to connect to USFS trail 385 to Sacajawea Peak. Because the weather forecast for tomorrow is for a 100% chance of rain, I decided to try the new trail today and found it to be a beautiful trail, although quite aggressive. Today’s hike took me from the trail head at 3450 feet to 5252 feet at the three mile point which looks to be about three miles and 1500 feet below the peak. The folks from the Ranger District have done a fantastic job building this trail! What an amazing amount of work they have done!

While it’s always exhilarating to be on a high country trail, this one is especially thrilling because of the quantity of very large Ponderosa pines spread all along it. Fifty years ago it was fairly common to see pines this size but today they are very rare. It’s hard to express how wonderful it was to see them today!

Here are a few photos. I measured one of the largest (it’s in the next to last photo) at 143 inches in circumference (3 feet 9 1/2 inches in diameter).

Large pines

Large pines

Large pines

Large pines

Large pines

Large pines

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