Black Pine Cone Doozies

I’m stumped again. Can anyone tell me what type of pine cone this is?

I had never seen cones like this before.

My husband spotted these little doozies on our hike last Saturday. I was up ahead on the trail and he called me to come back and take a look. He seemed really impressed and acted like they were something special. He hadn’t ever seen anything like it he said. Having already passed that point on the trail, I was reluctant to walk back. The Scenic Point Trail is short at 3.1 miles to the lookout, yet a steep climb of about 2,400 feet. The hike wasn’t as tough as I had remembered, but I told him I’d catch the cones on the way down. I just didn’t feel like retracing my steps. He told our daughters and me to make a point of remembering where the trees were so we could see them on our descent.

A wind blown pine reaches for the sky.

The hike was awesome! The scenery in the Two Medicine Valley never fails to impress. What can I say? Painted mountains, rugged scree slopes, windblown trees, showy wildflowers, and top of the world views of the Great Plains are hard to beat. The plateau was filled with delicate purple and yellow flowers. The sweet perfume of Alpine Lupine filled the air as we made our way to the point.

Fragrant Alpine Lupine

I thought the descent was kind of tough. My toes were banging up against my hiking boots and my feet hurt. I couldn’t wait for it to be over and it seemed like it took forever. But my feet were all but forgotten when I had the “ah ha” moment on seeing the black pine cones. They were unusually pretty and I started taking pictures of them. I asked some passing hikers if they had ever seen them before.

“Yeah” the guy said. The gal said she hadn’t and stopped to take a curious look. I took a few more shots and we went on our way.

I thought I’d blog about the cones today and tell you more about them, but I don’t exactly know what kind they are. As in the case of the Yellowstone boardwalks, I cannot seem to find specific information on what I call the “black” pine cones. White pines live in high elevations, but these trees looked a little different than the rest. Obviously, I just didn’t know what I was looking at.

I did learn that there are about 115 species of conifer trees. Pine cones come in male and female with the rare exception of same sex ones. The males are smaller and don’t look much like pine cones. They do their business, spread their seed, and only live a few weeks. And guess what?  Immature cones vary in shades of yellowish-green to magenta, so perhaps the black ones are just babies.

Immature yellow cones

Whatever the case, perhaps an answer will turn up as it did in the case of “What are these yellow flowers blooming all over the valley?  It took a few weeks for the answer to materialize but we just found out that they are canola plants.

Fields of canola plants

“Many are believers in chance coincidence, but I tell you that an answer comes because a question was asked. It’s as if the answer was conceived simultaneously with the question, waiting only for the moment to present itself.” ~ Grandpa Davey

Till next time,

Click here for the slideshow from East Glacier and Scenic Point.

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