Montana Outdoors

February 8, 2018

A second visit to Buttercup Ridge

Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , — montucky @ 7:39 pm

There was a little sun this afternoon so I took advantage of it to re-visit Buttercup Ridge and found quite a number of buttercups in bloom in the customary 20’ X 50’ place on the ridge; none anywhere else around for miles.

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup
 

I took two pictures of the following pair with different settings and couldn’t decide which I liked best.

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercups ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

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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.

March 16, 2017

Buttercup Ridge ’17

Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , — montucky @ 5:41 pm

Warm weather and rain have finally melted much of the snow at the valley level in this area and at long last I was able to visit a place, which for some reason hosts the first Spring bloom of buttercups in this whole region. A week ago there was a foot of snow on the ground up there, but today hundreds of buttercups were in full bloom on the tiny top of “Buttercup Ridge”.

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup

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

February 13, 2015

The first of 2015

Filed under: Wildflowers, Winter — Tags: , , — montucky @ 5:34 pm

After about a half mile of hiking toward a trail that I intended to visit today I tired of all of the snow and ice and turned back. I hike for the pure pleasure of it and saw no point in hiking where it wasn’t fun. And there are other places to go, one of which is Buttercup Ridge, where the very first wildflowers bloom every year about this time. It’s a small area, about 50 feet by 100 feet atop a very steep, narrow, rocky, cliffy ridge, and why buttercups bloom there nearly two months before they bloom anywhere else is a complete mystery to me. They do though, after all, bloom in western Montana and somewhere in their DNA they know that and they also know that before spring comes they may see temperatures of -20ºF and two feet of snow, but they bloom anyway. I love their attitude!

Buttercup Ridge

Buttercup Ridge

Sagebrush Buttercups ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus: (the water drops on some of them came from last night’s frost).

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

Sagebrush buttercup ~ Ranunculus glaberrimus

March 12, 2013

It’s a little bit Spring

Tucked neatly in between snow flurries these days there have been periods of sunshine, and Nature is proceeding with the inevitable journey toward Summer. The Buttercups which have been in bloom for a month on Buttercup Ridge have now spread to sunlit places along the valley floor

Buttercups

Sagebrush Buttercup Ranunculus glaberrimus

and among them are the tiny white flowers of Whitlow Grass.

Whitlow Grass

Whitlow Grass

Whitlow Grass

Whitlow Grass

Whitlow Grass, Draba verna

Near where these were blooming there was a section of an old abandoned barb-wire fence and it appeared to be a danger to the deer who crossed that hillside on their way to the river to drink. As I knelt down to cut the pieces of old rusted wire, this very early bloom of Woodland Star became visible, perhaps as a small reward for my effort.

Woodland Star

Woodland Star, Lithophragma parviflorum

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