Sunday, August 17, 2008

North Shore plants...but in Montana!

As a North Shore naturalist, I have often explained how thimbleberries are found all around Lake Superior...and nowhere else in the eastern US. I tell folks that you have to go to the wetter western slopes of the Rockies to find thimbleberries again. So I was thrilled to find some of those huge leaves and delicious berries somewhere else---west! This is a geeky nature concept, but stick with me on it.

After three days of hiking at treeline in the Beartooth Mountains and on their dry eastern slope, Sally and I did a hike up Pine Creek, on the wetter western slope of the nearby Absorakas. Western slopes catch the moisture coming off the Pacific Ocean. And a parade of familiar plants had me feeling right at home. Not only thimbleberry, but also giant cow parsnip, wild rose, and these familiar fruits:

Not exactly Minnesota blueberries, but Montana huckleberries. Here's the plant itself with a berry:

As a naturalist, I'm always tossing out fun facts, some of which I only know from books. It's particularly nice to confirm what I've only read with real-life experiences like this!

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