June had rain showers, July brought sunshine… now, the August alpine meadows are exploding with gorgeous wildflowers! At the higher elevation trails, like Beehive Basin and North Fork, yellow sunflowers and arrow leaf groundsel abound, keep an eye out along the trail for the stacked blue petals of a mountain Lupine, the simple pink Sticky Geranium or the jagged petal construction of the flaming red Indian Paintbrush that are in full bloom. Not only beautiful to look at, these plants are forage for the deer, elk and moose that live in the area. An adult moose can eat up to 60 lbs of plant life a day, so they’re on the lookout for these plants. At lower elevations you’ll find a favorite of bears and humans alike, wild strawberries, thimbleberries, soapberry and, a Montana-must, huckleberries are ripening. Traditionally, the soapberry was used by native tribes to make a type of ice cream by whipping crushed berries together with water and a sweetener, often-times using other berries like the thimbleberry for sweetness.
While you’re taking in the beauty of this Montana flora, don’t be tricked by the invasive plants no matter how lovely they are. The ubiquitous white Oxeye Daisy, the alien looking purple Canada Thistle, or the similarly odd Spotted Knapweed, to name a few, are stimulating pops of color, but not indigenous to the Yellowstone area. To identify these beautiful wildflowers and beastly weeds, an ideal handbook is The Montana Noxious Weed Field Guide by Becky Kington. While out on your favorite hike, make a stride towards keeping noxious weeds at bay so the indigenous plants can thrive. Pull a weed and carry it home to the garbage. To get involved and learn more, join the Big Sky Community Organization and Gallatin Invasive Species Alliance on a Wildflower & Weed hike at Beehive Basin on August 16th, 10:00 – noon. Meet at the trailhead!
Contact: Jen at Gallatin Invasive Species Alliance, tel: 406-209-0905