Friday, May 31, 2013

The Ol' Prairie Crocus

Pasqueflower "Anemone patens" (c) JohnAshley
A pentet of springtime pasqueflowers
Pasqueflower (Anemone patens) is a common sight in Montana's windy, springtime prairies. It's often the first flower to bloom each spring, and most of them have turned to seed before the other native plants even dare to open their delicate flowers. The pretty purple parts are actually sepals - modified leaves - and the real flower parts are yellow. Pasqueflower goes by a number of common names, mostly relating to its timing or habitat. You're just as likely to hear someone call this plant a prairie crocus, meadow anemone, wind flower or Easter flower.

Identifying the Crocus: If you're like me and often forget to pack your guidebooks when you head outdoors, then don't worry - now there's an app for that. My botanist friend, Shannon, has just released a shiny new phone/tablet/computer application called, "Glacier Wildflowers." The app is a portable version of the book, "Wildflowers of Glacier National Park," that Shannon published in 2010 with Peter Lesica.

There's a smaller free version of the app and a larger version that includes over 250 wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees. You can search by plant type, flower color, fruit shape, leaf shape, leaf arrangement, leaf texture, and plant size! The paid version only costs a measly five bucks, and part of the proceeds are donated to the Glacier National Park Conservancy. I've got it. You need it.