Calypso Orchids

By Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

Although most people think of orchids as tropical plants, Montana is home to 31 species of orchids, almost all of which are found in the western part of the state. In the West Valley area of the Flathead Valley, the orchid you are most likely to encounter is the beautiful Calypso orchid. “Most likely” in this case does not mean common–they’re still a rare treat to encounter on a hike.

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Rocky Mountain Beeplant

By Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

Rocky Mountain beeplant is native to the valley, although I seem to rarely encounter one. They are annuals, but they can grow up to 5 feet in a season. They are in the cleome family (Cleome serrulata) and are often cultivated in gardens. They are one of the most visually striking wildflowers in the area, as you will see.

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Spotted Coralroot Orchid

By Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

One of the less common—and certainly one of the most unusual—flowering plants you might encounter in the valley is the spotted coralroot orchid. At first glance it may appear to be dead. It has no leaves, and it can be a deep brown color. But look closely and you’ll find an exceptionally beautiful orchid.

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