Ryan Jordan

Mountain Marsh Marigold in Beartooth Mountains

The Mountain Marsh Marigold is mis-named because it’s a closer relative of the buttercup than of a true marigold. It has only sepals, and no petals, but failing to examine it closely will cause your brain to lie to you and trick you into thinking it’s an aster, or daisy – so get down on your knees.

The defining feature, some will argue, are its leaves, but it’s simpler than that.

You find them in marshy areas. Duh!

Most commonly in Montana, they grow in subalpine meadows where melting snow and little streams provide plenty of moisture for it. The one in the photo was found blooming in mid-July in Montana’s Beartooth Range at 9,400 feet in a meadow that was really squishy when you walked through it. I photographed a bunch of ’em up here but this one was my favorite because its little blooming family was isolated on a tiny little grass island in the middle of a flowing creek.

It’s more commonly called the “White” Marsh Marigold, although Montana (and probably parts of Idaho) have a “Sulphur” subspecies as well, that has pale yellow sepals.

The edibility of the Mountain Marsh Marigold is questionable.

Rumor has it that local native Americans dried the leaves and used them as herbs, but most of the ones I know now buy things like Spike in grocery stores so I can’t confirm this rumor first hand.

In addition, I know a guy that boils its roots and eats them.

I stay away from it because it has sister species that have reportedly kills cows, and usually, where there are Mountain Marsh Marigolds growing, there are other edible foods, like wild onions, and well, trout in the lakes fed by the streams along which the Mountain Marsh Marigold grow.