Smelling the Flowers

Whenever we travel, we particularly enjoy the varied wildflowers that dot the landscape. It might be daisies waving their little white heads at us from the roadside, or it might be an unknown astilbe-like white blossom that adds a brilliant spot deep in the forest greenery.

Every area has its wildflowers; some large, some small, ones common and others not in the books. Many are simply for show. Medicines have come from wildflowers everywhere.

Regardless of their background, wildflowers can be scene stealers wherever we go. In Montana we’ve found many. Here are but a few.

Daisies warm the heart throughout the mid to late summer. They grow on roadsides and meadows, waiting for little girls to take them home as crowns and jewelry.

Blue native clematis winds its way along the forest floor and up convenient trees, always bringing a bit of sky color to the shade below. Golden Rod adds its own sunshine to green corners in July and August with its bright yellow conical heads.

The common Cow Parsnip takes on new dimension when seen in deep shadow, set alight by a beam of sunlight, creating lime green fans of its broad leaves. The umbrella shaped white floral crown takes its supreme position and waits to be touched. This humble plant has fed animals and humans alike for countless centuries and still stands above men’s heads to see the world and its wonders.

And if we’re lucky, on rare occasions, we get to see a jewel that we’ve not as yet found in any of the references. This tiny ruby example of the world’s wonders sat next to a rushing stream in the gravel. A bare inch or two, it reached upward to touch its sky. Its strawflower-like blossoms had not yet opened, but promised to delight a viewer in a day or so.

Such gems and an appreciation of them can keep any traveler occupied during the long drives or hikes around any average destination. Like many examples of wildlife, wildflowers are diverse survivors who flaunt their uniqueness and beauty for all to see.

Take advantage of your opportunities. Snap some photos. Start a continuing list of those wildflowers you’ve found. Discover their secrets. There are many references available in print and on-line. You might find yourself with a new hobby that will give you pleasure wherever you go. Don’t forget, one man’s weeds are another’s wildflowers.

For additional infomration on Montana wildflowers, go to: http://montana.plant-life.org/

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