By Robert Lucke
It is the beginning of wildflower season and soon on Montana prairies and mountains alike, whole fields will be a riot of color.
This colorful display of Montana wildflowers will last all the way through fall, although some years produce more than other years.
One of the best family activities is to get out to a prairie hillside or a Bear Paw forest or meadow and identify exciting species of flowers, some as common as buttercups and some as rare as mountain orchids.
Even the Internet has much to say on the subject of identifying Montana wildflowers.
To get to them, just punch in on a search engine, "Montana state wildflowers" and you will be rewarded with many pages of plants identified, where they are, and just what they look like.
Not only that, but even resorts to see wildflowers are mentioned, such as the Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch at McLeod, Montana. Internet pages even wax poetic about flowers once in a while.
Consider Dutchman's breeches which are found in dark and rich forest bottoms.
A poem by Loretta Kuse:
Dutchman's breeches/Hanging in a row./On a tiny clothesline/ In the woods you grow./Rain and dew will wash you./Soil and dirt will go away./Sun and wind will dry you./On a sunny day.
Not interested in the Internet? Try the Havre/Hill County Library.
They have books of flowers and plants in this area. Some of those books are now out of print, but pages can be copied to help identify what you have seen on a Saturday afternoon.
You can buy your own flower guide. One excellent guide is Prairie Wildflowers by Dr. Dee Strickler. The title is misleading.
There are many mountain flowers too, probably because so many mountain wildflowers in Montana are prairie wildflowers as well. Looking in the Little Rockies, Glacier, the Bear Paws, or even the Cypress Hills this is your book.
A more in-depth look at wildflowers is a falcon guide by H. Wayne Phillips, entitled Central Rocky Mountain Wild Flowers.
Not only does this book include the prairies and mountains of Montana, Alberta and Saskatchewan, but it is a guide for flowers in such places as Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park.
So whatever your mode of identifying flowers is, this is the time to start because just now, sleepy buttercups are peeping up, the first of natures lavish spring, summer and fall display.