HELENA — Mt. Helena is currently in bloom with arrowleaf balsamroot, slimpod shooting stars and other wildflowers.
Hundreds of fourth grade students would usually be given tours this week s howcasing the plant life, but due to COVID-19 those guided hikes are canceled.
The Montana Discovery Foundation, the Montana Native Plant Society and the U.S. Forest Service has partnered for over 20 years to make the educational opportunity available.
“This year is all self-guided,” explained Rebecca Skeldon, acting executive director of the Montana Discovery Foundation. “We have posters at the trailhead with a QR code that you can scan on your smartphone which will take you to the digital Mt. Helena Wildflower Booklet.”
The booklet is sorted by flowers, shrubs and trees. It also contains some facts and history of the plants.
Skeldon says educating youth, or anyone for that matter, about what native plants grow in Montana helps them be good stewards of the land.
“It really creates an enthusiasm for conserving these plants,” said Skeldon. “A lot of people don’t realize there’s Montana’s state flower here on Mt. Helena the bitterroot. You can see that this time of year flowering.”
The art on the Celebrating Wildflowers poster was drawn by Matt Gilbert, a fourth grade student at Kessler Elementary School.
People looking at wildflowers are asked to not pick them so they can be enjoyed by all. Weeds should also be left alone as Mt. Helena has a comprehensive plan from removing them.
More information on all the flowering plants in Big Sky Country can be found in the Montana Field Guide.