The April Wildflower Bloom in Montana

April is the month when wild plants start blooming in Montana. There is normally still snow on the ground in the high country but that doesn’t stop many of the plants from putting out their flowers. It adds color to the landscape that has laid dormant since October.

The following are some of the flowers a person who visits Montana in April, or one who lives here might see. Many of these flowers aren’t flashy but they are beautiful, none-the-less.


This is Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, better known as bearberry or kinnikinnick. The plant is a trailing shrub that forms dense mats in the forests. The small, bell-shaped pink blossoms are pretty and later produce edible berries. As the common name implies, bears (and humans) do eat the berries. This is also a medicinal plant.

Early Blue Violet

April is the month that the wild violets or violas start blooming. These are Viola adunca, known as early blue violets or hookedspur violets. As with all violas, the leaves are delicious. The roots, fruits, and seeds should not be eaten, though. Still, this pretty little edible plant also has medicinal properties.

It is found from lowlands to the mountains and blooms all summer.

Golden Currant

Golden currants (Ribes aureum) are wild bushes that grow up to nine feet tall. In April, they start blooming and there is usually a profusion of sweet-smelling yellow blooms (the species name, aureum, means 'golden'). As is shown in the picture, these flowers are highly attractive to wild honey bees, bumblebees, and butterflies. The black, red, or yellow fruits are sweet and tasty and they make excellent preserves. This is also a medicinal plant.

Meadow Death-Camas

This totally gorgeous plant is the meadow death-camas (Zigadenus venenosus). Unlike many of the other wildflowers pictured here, this one is decidedly NOT EDIBLE. The plant contains zygadenine, an alkaloid that is more poisonous than strychnine. The plant is medicinal, though, when used externally, primarily for the treatment of sprains, bruises, and rheumatism. This is found in most of Montana.

Oregon Grape

Although it is commonly called Oregon grape, or alternately barberry or holly grape, Berberis repens is neither a grape nor is it confined to Oregon. It does have pretty yellow blossoms, though, that are attractive to honey bees and bumblebees. The berries can be made into an excellent jam and this plant has medicinal properties.

It shouldn't be consumed by pregnant or lactating women, though.

    • In many of these, the leaves also have spines like holly. Most are low-growing, though, and the berries are normally deep purple when they are ripe.


Star Lily

Yes, it is a wild lily and it is quite pretty. Leucocrinum montanum is found in the drier areas of the state. The species name, montanum, is actually not a direct reference to Montana. Rather, it means "of the mountains". There is an indication that the Crow Indians ate the bulbs. However, I've never tried them, so I can't say if they are good to eat or not. The bulbs are medicinal, though.


This is Amelanchier alnifolia, commonly called either Saskatoon Serviceberry or Cusick's Serviceberry. The bush can grow up to 15 feet tall but is usually smaller. The berries are wonderfully sweet and juicy, though. The plant is also medicinal and it has a spreading root system that is good for protecting against erosion. This plant grows throughout most of Montana.

    • It is very possible. It grows throughout the north, including in Canada and Alaska. It is also widespread in both the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Mountains.


Western Springbeauty

This small, delicate plant is Western Springbeauty (Claytonia lanceolata). Although the flowers and plants aren't very large, it is easy to see how they get their common name. This plant is edible and the roots are good raw or cooked. The plants are quite high in vitamins A and C. 

These are only nine of the wildflowers of Montana that bloom in April. These are also only the native ones. There are a lot more April-blooming wildflowers in Montana, including a substantial number that were introduced and at times are invasive.


These beautiful flowers are yellowbells, also called yellow mission bells or Fritillaria pudica. They are a sort of lily that has edible bulbs and they add beautiful yellow coloration to areas with sagebrush and forests of Ponderosa Pine trees when they are in bloom.


What do you think?

Written by Rex Trulove