The glacier lilies are unfurling their golden petals in Pattee Canyon and patches of purple pasqueflowers can be found there, too – here are this week’s wildflower notes from around Missoula. I haven’t been out to Blue Mountain in a while – maybe this weekend!
Spring wildflower season is getting going around western Montana – here’s what I’ve been seeing on Missoula-area recreation lands lately. And remember to follow me on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram for more frequent reports and photos!
A U.S. Forest Service scientist is conducting some interesting native plant research on Missoula’s hillsides. According to a story by the Missoulian’s Martin Kidston, with photos by Michael Gallacher, Dean Pearson is trying to deter mice from eating native plant seeds using a powder derived from hot chile peppers.
It’s not just any chile pepper, though – it’s the bhut jolokia, aka “ghost chile,” at one time declared the hottest pepper of all by Guinness World Records.
According to Kidston’s story:
One man who ate a bhut jolokia pepper on a dare allegedly spent hours vomiting, sweating and hallucinating. Pearson said such reactions to the pepper pertain to mice and men alike, along with all other mammals, making it an effective deterrent.
The word this morning is now is the time to see the camas in Packer Meadows at Lolo Pass, off U.S. Highway 12 on the Montana-Idaho border! The large field of blue flowers is about 75 percent in bloom, according to the Lolo Pass Visitor Center’s Facebook page. Updates are also available by phone at (208) 942-1234.
Here are some more wildflower reports from western Montana for your weekend viewing:
A lot of bitterroots blooming on the North Hills ridge, and blanketflowers, too!
Features: This four-mile walk starts on Missoula’s Northside, just outside of downtown, and rises up to a gravelly ridge known for its abundance of flowers. It also passes the historic Moon-Randolph Homestead.
Flowers: The North Hills are in full bloom right now. The red, bell-shaped long-plumed avens are turning to prairie smoke as death camas, which looks like a small version of beargrass, flowers in grassy areas. Bitterroot buds are starting to unfurl their slender pink petals and fuzzytongue penstemon flowers are growing in clusters on stalks. Penstemon eriantherus grows 5 to 15 inches tall with open pink to violet flowers that have three purple-veined lobes on the lower side and a hairy stamen protruding from the center. (“Wildflowers of Montana,” by Donald Anthony Schiemann.)
Description: The trail begins just west of the parking lot at the north end of Orange Street, at the Interstate 90 on- and off-ramp. After passing through the gate, it switchbacks up the hill then splits at about half a mile. The eastern route rises to the popular ridge trail at about 1 mile; bitterroots were starting to bloom near this junction early this week. The western route rounds the hill to the Moon-Randolph Homestead at about 1 1/2 miles – where you can find long-plumed avens and death camas among the grasses – then reaches the ridgeline. Go either direction, then follow the ridge trail to make a loop. Along the ridge, look for fuzzytongue penstemon growing from the gravelly soil. After looping around, follow the switchbacks down the hill to the trailhead.