17 June 2011

Will Hike for Wildflowers

Both while camping (see the next post) and hiking, now is a great time for spring wildflowers on the high desert and sagebrush prairie of southwest Montana:

Sagebrush Prairie Wildflowers

Camped on the open prairie of the upper Big Hole River watershed, I was there primarily to watch elk cows and calves. But no one could ignore the great wildflowers blooming in this wet, lush spring. It was also an opportunity for Mrs. Rover and I to visit RolyTheDog's grave:

Here's a sampler of the wildflowers.

Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon pulchellum; known colloquially as Roosterheads), both purple:

And white:

Pasque Flowers (Anemone nuttalliana):

American Bistort (Polygonum bistortoides):

Green Bluebells (Mertensia lanceolata):

False Dandelion (Agoseris glauca):

Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum):

Springbeauty (Claytonia lanceolata):

And, not quite yet in bloom, Silky Lupine (Lupinus sericeus):

Looking closely for wildflowers, you find other treausures--such as this small rodent jaw:

High Desert Wildflowers

At the same time, on the high desert of the middle Big Hole River valley (near Melrose), the flora is completely different on this parched landscape:

Still, lots of flowers, including the following.

One of many difficult to identify (they hybridize freely) Bladder-pod:

A species of Buckwheat (Erigonum sp.):

Fuzzytongue Penstemon (Penstemon eriantherus):

Prairie Rocket (Erysimum asperum):

Rabbitfoot Crazyweed (Oxytropis lagopus):

Silky Crazyweed (Oxytropis sericea):

Showy Larkspur (Delphinium occidentale):

Silverleaf Phacelia (Phacelia hastata):

And Miner's Candle (Cryptantha celosioides):

The latter is especially appropriate, given the many mines that dot this landscape, a geological contact zone of limestone and metamorphic rock:

Here's Dave and MollyTheDog checking out an entrance:

Some of the mines go in just a short ways:

Others make scary, deep descents where we dare not go:

I have little interest in mineral treasure, but delight more in finding the shed antlers of mule deer:

Down the valley along the river, the salmonflies are hatching in the high, flood-level waters. The emergence of salmonflies always seems to coincide with the arrival of Western Tanagers:


While the rest of the country is experiencing a heat wave or other severe weather, we're just happy to have nights that are mostly above freezing now! Spring.

5 comments:

Janie said...

I'm a little leery of going into the old mines.
Love all of your wildflowers. We see a lot of similar ones, probably the same genus but different species.

tsduff said...

OMG - I went through each picture and with each one or two decided on a new favorite... but soon they became too numerous to chose... WOW!
I haven't even checked out the fabulous post below - though the sunset is beckoning! Thank you for your usual walk through places I can't see ever day - I simply love it.

Going to Yellowstone at the end of this month - can't wait to see some of the beauty there. Thanks xoxo

Max said...

Have you seen the tanagers capture salmonflies? Sounds like a great migratory fuel source.

sandy said...

Loved the bird and the wildflowers, but the mines are kind of scary.

I think the wildflowers looks so much nicer in the grass than in a garden.

BLD in MT said...

Any chance I have to see a western tanager makes me giddy. It doesn't happen to me often.

I've been contemplating finding a book on identifying flowers and other plants. I have developed the skill of bird identification over the years and now feel I should move on to other areas of the natural world.

I've seen many of these flowers and never know what they were called. I would love to be able to rattle off flower names in a lovely meadow just as I do the birds. I am impressed by the sheer variety of the ones you found.

Do you have any recommendations on plant books by chance?