Saturday, May 2, 2015

Blue Virgin's Bower

Crab spider waits to ambush any bee or fly that comes in to pollinate a bowing blue clematis
Blue clematis, or virgin's bower (Clematis occidentalis), blooms about the same time as our sun-loving dandelions even though it's a woody vine that tends to root in shaded areas. Clematis vines climb shrubs and small trees to open patches of blue flowers in full sun or partial shade. Lewis and Clark must have seen two varieties while crossing Montana's Bitterroot Mountains, but they didn't collect any samples. We recently noticed lots of clematis blooming near Bigfork, in the lower reaches along the lake at Wayfarers State Park. Meanwhile, the rocky upper park area is full of unopened lupine spikes will put on a show for weeks to come. Entrance to our state parks is free to Montana residents, and Wayfarers features a great beach, an easy trail system, and lots of native wildflowers.