By Alkali Springs Correspondent
This is the best time of the year to get on out to Beaver Creek Park or some other beautiful place either in the beautiful Bear Paws or our sister mountain range, the Little Rockies, and enjoy the wide array of early summer flowers.
And in spite of dry weather, there has been just enough rain to make those flowers really bloom.
Most easily noticed are not flowers at all, but Juneberry and chokecherry blossoms. They are all over mountainsides and valley floors and turn whole areas into beautiful football fields of white. Mostly the Juneberry blossoms are fading now, but chokecherry blossoms are in their glory.
And next to the white of blossoms, most people comment this time of year of whole mountainsides full of yellow sunflowerlike blooms. Called balsamroot, this does not seem like the most wonderful year for that. Some years have had a more lavish display, but this year is not bad.
This flower has a long and interesting history according to our flower book. "Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition collected a specimen of balsamroot on April 14, 1806, near the present day White Salmon, Washington. The specimen label and journal entries for that day document the native people gathering parcels of the stems' and eating the stems of balsamroot without any preparation'. Modern herbalists rely on the plant to fight infections, loosen phlegm, and boost the immune system."
And with that, it is one of the most beautiful of all Bear Paw flowers.
Prairie Smoke has always intrigued us. It is a purple flower about five or six inches high that shows sort of purple like bulbs on its top, not flowers at all. And yet, it is most beautiful and lavish in its growth patterns.
Right now in Bear Paw valleys, Montana Larkspur is just starting to bloom. Another flower book of ours comments that some authors call low species larkspurs and taller species to be delphinium. There are both of these species in the Bear Paws and the Little Rockies as well. What we are seeing right now are low and an incredible deep, deep blue. From the start, this seems to be going to be a good year for larkspur.
Wild sweet peas are still going strong in the mountains, along roadways and on hillsides. This yellow, low flower is easy to identify and by some flower books is called round-leafed golden-pea. One book states that this flower, while beautiful, is not to be trifled with by man nor beast.
"These plants contain several alkaloids, suspected to be poisonous and to have caused loss of life in cattle, horses and children who ingest the plants. Although these deaths have not been positively linked to the plant, it would be prudent to avoid eating the pods or any part of round-leafed golden-pea."
The more rain we get these days, the more lavish this year's flower displays will be. But even with little rain, for the flower buff, the mountains will provide a veritable movable feast from now until Labor Day.