Spring Beauty -- Purslane Family Soon after the snow melts, you’ll find this common early spring wildflower in variable habitat from open prairie to forest to alpine habitats; all are habitats you’ll find in the Helena National Forest. Five wide spreading petals, notched at the tips, may vary from pure white to white with rose stripes to nearly all rose. These flowers grown in moist soil and you can expect to find them on almost any spring outing in the forest. Field guides to wildflowers can be purchased at any office of the Helena National Forest.
Shooting Star, Bird Bills -- Primrose family You’ll find this beautiful wildflower that looks like a small colorful rocket in generally damp locations. It is widespread, found throughout the west, with several different species inhabiting the Rockies. The yellow and purplish-black stamens fuse together around the style to form the nose, while the pink to intensely magenta petals flare back into a spreading tail. It blooms early in spring at lower elevations. Mid-summer, you’ll be able to find it above timberline. Because of the ranges of elevation in the Helena National Forest, you can find shooting stars in most summer months. Field guides to wildflowers can be purchased at any office of the Helena National Forest.
Bluebell -- Borage Family Several closely related bluebell species inhabit the Rocky Mountains: streamside bluebells, mountain bluebells, and small bluebells-to name just a few. They have long, tube like blue (or pink) petals that extend beyond the green sepals. They range in size from 2" to 5' tall. You'll find bluebells in extended habitats -- foothills, montane and subalpine areas -- all found in the Helena National Forest. Field guides to wildflowers can be purchased at any office of the Helena National Forest.
Prairie Smoke, Purple Avens -- Rose Family Open prairie and foothills where soil is deep and moist in the spring are home to this graceful wildflower. One to several, but most often three, top-shaped flowers nod in the prairie breeze. They range in color from a brick red, to deep dusty rose, to yellowish with red stripes. The fruit of the flower becomes puffs of long feathery plumes (thus the name Prairie Smoke) that travel on the wind. You'll find Prairie Smoke in the Helena National Forest in early spring and into summer in higher elevations. Field guides to wildflowers can be purchased at any office of the Helena National Forest.