The Kelsey Chapter serves native plant enthusiasts in the greater Helena and Great Falls areas, and regions associated with the Rocky Mountain Front and central and north central Montana.
The Chapter President is Mark Majerus; Chapter Vice-President is Kadie Gullickson
Contact Chapter Secretary Jane Fournier, for questions regarding the Chapter.
Are you interested in Native Plant Landscaping in our area? Click here
Programs and Activities:
Saturday June 4 – Botanical Sketching/Nature Journaling (Montana City) 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Sketching and journaling botanical subjects enhances observation skills and botanical understanding. This morning field sketching outing takes a gentle walk to an area of native plants and wildflowers to enjoy and sketch. If you’re new to drawing, botanical artist Jane Fournier and nature journalist Connie Geiger will introduce you to some useful sketching and journaling techniques. If you are an experienced artist/journalist, this is an opportunity to tune up your skills for the coming season. Bring your own sketchbook, water, snacks, and a low chair or seating pad, but all other art supplies will be available. No previous drawing experience needed. Limit 10. To register, send an email with the subject line “Botanical Sketching” and your name and contact information to [email protected].
Saturday July 9 – Blackleaf Canyon (Choteau) 9:00 a.m. Join guides Klara Varga and Matthew Stewart as we explore the area around Blackleaf Canyon on the Rocky Mountain Front, just west of Bynum. Blackleaf WMA and Blackleaf Canyon offer opportunities to see a number of rare or sensitive plant species, and some cool microsites that afford some plants the ability to grow where they might not otherwise. Due to the sensitive nature of some of the plants, group size is limited to 10. For those wishing to camp, there is camping up by the canyon itself, and Klara will be meeting people at the Helena-Lewis and Clark NFS boundary at 09:00. For those closer to Choteau and Great Falls, we will be meeting at the Forest Service Office in Choteau at 09:00. We will all head to the first stop from there and see what we can find. Bring water, lunch/snacks, shoes for crossing through water, a good, high-clearance vehicle to get back there with, bear spray, a hand lens, your field guide of choice, and a spirit of adventure. This should be an easy hike, with very little overall elevation gain. To register, send an email with the subject line “Blackleaf Canyon” and your name and contact information to [email protected].
Reports on Past Activities:
Germinating Native Plants, Wednesday, April 13, 7:00 p.m. Presented by Kenda Herman. Grounded in restoration work, Kenda shared her experiences in plant propagation. Her presentation focused on species and strategies that succeed in early succession environments and share her love for ‘weedy’ natives. She provided some strategies to propagate plants from seeds and stems, and talked about the lessons learned. View the program here.
In 2014 Kenda started her own business, Montana Native Plant Services which allowed her to design and install native landscaping that was water-wise, pollinator-friendly, and based on ecological and restoration fundamentals. From the University of Montana at Western, Kenda earned two bachelor’s degrees in environmental science, emphasizing Wetland Management, Biology, and Geochemistry. She has more than 10 years of experience in the fields of botany, wildlife, and ecology. Prior to owning her own business, Kenda worked for the National Park Service, Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, and the Restoration Ecology Lab at the University of Montana in Missoula. Most recently – since August of 2020 – she works as the Botany Data Assistant for the Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena.
“May Your Life Be Like A Wildflower” Wednesday, March 9th. This program presented by the Kelsey Chapter of Montana Native Plant Society featured the story of Mike Marsh, a Helena-based optician who just recently started photographing wildflowers “as a fun thing to do.” In January 2021, at the urging of his sister to post something positive, Mike started sharing a wildflower post every day on his Facebook page, and soon established a following. For a relative novice, Mike offers words of wisdom for all of us: “discover the beauty in your own backyard.” Mike shares lessons he’s learned about photography, some tips about wildflowers, introduces a very helpful app, and gives some very practical suggestions for enjoying our great outdoors. Learn how Mike added poems to go with his flowers. We think you’ll find his enthusiasm for Montana’s beautiful flora contagious! Click here to link to a recording of the program.
Native trees and shrubs in the urban environment. February 9, 2022. – Link to recording here. Gardening with native plants through the years has been one of the most popular interests among members of the Kelsey Chapter. Mostly that interest is focused on wildflowers. Here, Carson Thomas presented valuable and interesting information about the use of native trees and shrubs in the urban landscape as well as some select varieties and current trends in the marketability of native plants in Montana. Carson has been involved in the green industry of Montana for most of his life, from buying plants at the local nurseries as a kid to working in one of those nurseries through high school and college He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in horticulture. After graduation, he briefly continued working in the local nursery and moved on to become a groundskeeper for Montana FWP and eventually, the Nursery Program Specialist for the Montana Department of Agriculture. In that position, Carson inspects nurseries, certifies exports, surveys for pests, and takes action to prevent the artificial spread of invasive species of insects, plants, and diseases throughout Montana.
Identification and Appreciation of Montana Native Grasses, Presented by: Mark Majerus – January 12, 2022 via Zoom – 7:00pm.
Grasses are among the largest, most wide-spread, and economically important plant families world-wide. Yet, for many of us, grasses may be just an indecipherable ground cover growing around or in place of more charismatic plant species. Our Kelsey Chapter President, Mark Majerus, is here to help raise the curtain on some of this mystery. Mark has spent his entire career working with grasses and has authored a book entitled Forage and Reclamation Grasses of the Northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. In this presentation, Mark will discuss the morphological characteristics that are used to distinguish among different grass groups (Tribes) and define individual species. Mark will examine about 50 of the most important native grass species and point out characteristics that are unique to individual species. Other topics Mark will address include the importance of each species for disturbed lands restoration, forage (wildlife and livestock), wildlife habitat, and plant community sustainability.
Botanical Sketchbook On a beautiful cool sunny Saturday in June, 2021, several MNPS members met in the Elkhorn Mountains to learn the basics of botanical drawing and nature journaling. Botanical artist Jane Fournier introduced the group (ranging from complete beginners to the very artistic) to the joys of spending quality time with plants. Jane and her accomplished friend, Connie Geiger gave the group instructions, art supplies, and assignments helpful to total beginners and budding artists alike. Soon everyone was engrossed in a plant they had picked to sketch. The morning quickly slipped away as everyone sketched with Jane and Connie offering helpful hints. Drawing the chosen plants also enhanced the participants’ observation skills. Jane emphasized how Botanical sketchbooks and nature journals can serve a multitude of purposes from recording scientific information and observations to a journal of personal discoveries and adventures.
An Evening of Wildflowers & Insects on Priest Pass On June 17, 2021, Montana’s State Entomologist, Alyssa Piccolomini and Botanist, Layla Dunlap, led an evening outing at Priest Pass on the Continental Divide west of Helena. Participants found and and identified various forbs and saw a diversity of beetle, bee, and fly species and more. The event was well attended with about 20 folks who spanned from the teenage to retirement years. The rough fescue (Festuca campestris) grassland hosted at least 30 species of plants such as Camas (Camassia quamash), Moss Phlox (Phlox muscoides), Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis), pasqueflower (Anemone patens), several species of groundsel (Senecio).
Forest Mosses of the South Hills On June 5th, 2021, Botanists Justina Dumont (Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest) and Andrea Pipp (Montana Natural Heritage Program) led a hike to learn some common forest mosses. The learning venue was the Wakina Sky trail in Helena’s ‘backyard’. Stepping off trail and getting down on all fours, the group of about 10 learned how to see a moss. Participants examined different growth forms, branching patterns, leaf shapes, shades of green to gold, and found the plants’ unique microsites. Participants viewed 11 moss species such as Frizzled Crisp (Tortella tortuosa), Broken Top Dicranum (Dicranum tauricum), and Frightened Cattail (Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus). Leaders also discussed moss reproduction and many important ecological roles that often go without due credit. Participants marveled at mosses’ ability to spring to life with a spray of water. It was a great ½-day trip with inquisitive members who also shared their knowledge.
Kelseya uniflora 2017 Field Trip – Trout Creek Canyon Trip Report For several years, we had hoped to conduct a field trip to see the Kelseya uniflora in full bloom, but the uncertainty of spring weather has foiled our attempts. At one point, we succeeded. Six Kelsey Chapter members journeyed out to see the spring bloom in as mild spring snowstorm. Our species list, according to the Lesica rule (only blooming plants counted) was 1, Kelseya uniflora.
These three pictures show the plants in bud or just beginning to bloom on April 6, 2017.
Here are pictures from our trip on April 9, 2017:
Spring Meadow Plant Surveys
At the request of Amanda Coyle, AmeriCorps intern for Spring Meadow Lake State Park, Kelsey Chapter members conducted three surveys from May to July, 2021 to document locations of native plants in the park. The surveys were successful, and we are grateful for the leadership from botanists Klara Varga, Scott Mincemoyer, and Drake Barton along with many members who searched, identified, and photographed the plants. This effort has helped Amanda determine the best placement for educational signs that will identify some of the native species in the park and their cultural uses. The Kelsey Chapter helped with the costs to create the signs. Plans are afoot to place the signs in the Spring of 2022. More news to come as the project progresses.
The Flora of Mount Helena
The Flora of Mount Helena permanent specimen collection is housed in the Montana section at the Lewis and Clark Library in Helena. The collection is arranged alphabetically by scientific name. Nomenclature follows Dorn 1984. An index is provided that allows cross-referencing by common name and common family name. Click here for a pdf file of the species list.
The Flora of Mount Helena collection is a joint project of the Kelsey Chapter of the Montana Native Plant Society and the Lewis and Clark Library. The Kelsey Chapter formally donated the specimen collection to the Lewis and Clark Library in 1999.
For more information about the collection or to make suggestions, contact the Montana Native Plant Society, Kelsey Chapter at [email protected]