Great Land of Alaska

Plants & Flowers

Beautiful Jacob's Ladder

Forget-me-not closeup Stump surrounded by flowers

The Beautiful Jacob's Ladder usually inhabits dry, rocky areas like the ones I found here.

Common Hairbell, Bluebells of Scotland

Bluebells Bluebells

Bluebells are usually found on grassy slopes and rocky outcroppings along the southern coastal areas of Alaska, and may occasionally be found inland.

Dandelions

Dandelions

The dandelion is not a plant native to Alaksa; it is a weed here just as it is in most other places where it occurs. However, they may add a nice touch of color in some places that they are found.

Devil's Club

Devil's club in forest
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This plant may look benign from a distance, but its stems and leaves are covered with many sharp spines, making it a plant that you definitely want to avoid. It has had many medicinal uses throughout Alaskan culture.

Dwarf Dogwood

Cluster of white flowers

Dwarf dogwoods inhabit woods, tundra, and low alpine areas. The plant produces a berry whose edibility is often questioned. It is not considered dangerous but some people report upset stomachs after eating these berries.

Dwarf Fireweed

Dwarf Fireweed

The Dwarf Fireweed is a smaller relative of the Common Fireweed, growing up to 20 inches (51cm) high. Dwarf fireweed are often found growing along streams or riverbars, but may occasionally be found growing in rocky terrain in the mountains.

Eskimo Potato

Purple flowers

The Eskimo Potato plant grows in most of Alaska except for southeast and the Aleutian chain. Its habitat is usually rocky slopes and open forests. The closely related wild pea--considered poisonous--is sometimes mistaken for the edible Eskimo potato.

Common Fireweed

Fireweed growing by river Blooming fireweed
Fireweed near Matanuska Glacier
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Fireweed is found in meadows and woods throughout Alaska. It is a tall plant, capable of growing up to 7 feet (2.1 meters).The name Fireweed comes from this plants' ability to quickly regenerate and grow in areas defoliated by fire. The flowers are used to make honey or jelly, the leaves are edible, and the inside of the stem is very nutritious. When the top blooms, it means that summer is more or less over.

Alpine Forget-Me-Nots

Purple forget-me-nots

Alaska's state flower, the Forget-Me-Not grows in alpine and sub-alpine meadows and slopes. It is found in much of Alaska except for Southeast and the Yukon River drainage. The flowers are usually blue but may occasionally be white or pink.

Lichens

Lichen-covered rock

The coloration of this rock may make it look like a large piece of granite, but the black, grey, green, and yellow coloration actually comes from the lichens (a symbiotic association of a fungus with an algae or bacteria) that are covering every square inch of the exposed rock.

Monkshood

Small, deadly flower

Monkshood gets its name from the shape of its flower, which is shaped like a monk's hood. It's a pretty flowering found in meadows and woodlands of lower alpine areas. A member of the buttercup family of plants, it is an extremely poisonous plant that can cause death if ingested. The poison can be absorbed through the skin so even touching this plant is dangerous.

Mountain Harebell

Small flower on tundra

The Mountain Harebell is a close relative of the Common Harebell, but is much smaller. It is found on rocky ridges and alpine slopes throughout Alaska.

Mountain Hemlock

Close-up of small spruce

Hemlocks (not to be confused with Conium, poison hemlock) are a type of evergreen found commonly in alpine areas of Alaska. Many Alaskan Natives, including Kahtnuht'ana (Kenai Peninsula Dena'ina Athabascans) put hemlock branches in the water near spawning herring which laid their eggs amongst the needles. The branches would then be withdrawn and the eggs used for food.

Nootka Lupine

Bluish lupine Bluish lupine
Bluish lupine
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Nootka Lupines are found in dry slopes and fields of the Southeast, Southcentral, and Aleutian Chain. This member of the pea and bean family is commonly seen along the sides of many highways and roads in these areas. This plant, especially its seeds, is very poisonous.

Old Man's Beard

Old man's beard

Old Man's Beard is a type of lichen often found growing on spruce trees. It is actually two different organisms living together, an algae and a fungus. In sufficient quantities, Old Man's Beard can suffocate the tree that it is living on.

Pixie Eye Primrose

Pink flower

Pixie Eye Primrose is a small plant found in Southcentral and western coastal Alaska. It usually grows in rocky alpine areas.

Prickly Rose

Wild rose Prickly Rose

The Prickly Rose is a common plant, found in open woods, clearings, and meadows of most of Alaska except for the North Slope and Southeast. Like the rose that most people are familiar with, the Prickly Rose's stem is covered with small, sharp thorns. This plant produces a waxy-flavored fruit that can be sweetened and used to make jellies, jams, teas, and baked goods. The fruit's seeds have two prongs that may lodge in your intestines and cause considerable problems if the seeds are not removed prior to consuming the fruit.

Wild Geranium

Purple geraniums

Wild Geraniums are found are found in woodlands, meadows, and alpine areas of Southeast, Southcentral, and Southwest Alaska. They may be found in parts of the interior, but only about as far north as Nenana and Delta.

Spruce Trees

Small spruce trees

Spruce trees are found throughout Alaska, commonly occurring in mountainsides and in valleys, as well as in open taiga and tundra. Many, like these here, are permanently shaped by almost constant winds.

Tree without bark

Stripped tops of spruce trees are a sign of porcupine activity. The porcupines don't climb to the tops of the trees, they reach the tops by walking on top of the deep layers of snow that cover the area during winter. When all other food is buried under snow, they'll begin eating the bark of the treetops sticking out through the snow.

Small spruce

Barely surviving in a water-logged portion of nuntrient-poor marsh, this stunted spruce tree has taken on a shape that resembles a Bonsai tree.

Fall leaves

Yellow leaves Trees along road

Just like any other place with varying climate, deciduous trees in Alaska turn yellow in the autumn and drop off as winter draws nearer.

Forest floor

Close-up of floor vegetation

Some of the various mosses, lichens, and plants that make up many forest floors.


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