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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Thursday - June 30, 2011

From: Arlee, MT
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification for Montana
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I am in forestry and work by Flathead Lake MT. I came across a wildflower and cannot I.D. it. Two come close..the Low Larkspur and Mountain Bog Gentian. It is blue/purple, 5 rounded petals, leaves are opposite (2), and green/slender, stalk is green. Center is white. Flower itself about 1 in. at best. I do have a picture. It was growing in an open sw slope/pp site. about 4000 ft. in elevation..flowering in mid June.


From your description I keep coming back to Gentiana calycosa (Rainier pleated gentian) which I know is also called bog gentian (or mountain bog gentian) or explorer's gentian and I think you have ruled that one out.  Here are some other possibilities based on your description: 

You might like to look through the following plant databases:  Montana Plant Life, Montana Field Guides, and Idaho Mountain Wildflowers.  You can do a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database by choosing "Montana" from Select State or Province, "Herb" from Habit (general appearance), and under Bloom Characteristics: Color select "Blue", "Purple" and "Violet".

Sorry, but we no longer accept photos of plants for identification.  We were overwhelmed with photos and didn't have enough staff and volunteers to do the research to identify the plants in the photos.  As you can read on our Plant Identification page: 

"We would love to spend all day identifying native plants for you folks! However, we already spend all day (and most of the night) answering your native plant questions. Luckily, there are some excellent forums available to help you identify those mysterious unknowns."

You can send your photos for identification to one of the links for the plant identification forums found on our Plant Identification page.

We would be very pleased to know if your unknown flower is one of the suggested ones above.


From the Image Gallery

Rainier pleated gentian
Gentiana calycosa

Parry's gentian
Gentiana parryi

Autumn dwarf gentian
Gentianella amarella ssp. heterosepala

Threadleaf phacelia
Phacelia linearis

Alpine bluebells
Mertensia alpina

Cusick's speedwell
Veronica cusickii

Alpine speedwell
Veronica wormskjoldii

Polemonium pulcherrimum

Western polemonium
Polemonium occidentale

Parry's bellflower
Campanula parryi

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