The second journal assignment in the Montana Naturalist class I am taking is a Species Account. The directions are to “find one species that you can readily observe, and document as many details as you can through direct observation.” Since I have chosen Phipps Park, Billings, Montana, as my journaling location, I headed there on May 9, 2023.
It may not look like much when you hike by, but up close the Wax Currant (Ribes cereum) has interesting leaves and little pink flowers.
Here are the first two pages of my journal entry:
I had noticed the leaves on the plant on an earlier hike – the green color is more vivid than the other plants in the area. According to National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Rocky Mountain States the leaves are “toothed” (not ruffled), “grayish,” and have a “musky smell when crushed.” I am guessing the leaves may be more grayish in the summer. I didn’t think to crush and smell a leaf; maybe next time.
Page three of my journaling:
The flowers look like tiny bells to me; the Field Guide says they are tubular – which they are. I imagine learning the common descriptive words when we get to the unit on plants. Once I stood up to take pictures, I realized there were many groups of three or more flowers at the top of the bush.
I really like the star shape made by the petals.
I didn’t notice the darker pink at the end of the petals when taking the picture. I’m wondering if they’re shadowed or actually darker pink. Seems like a hike to the top of Phipps Park is in order – with the hope the wax currant is still flowering.
I will, of course, have to go back in late summer or early fall to check out the berries on the bush.