Arctic Adventures: Volume 15—Wildflowers

Arctic Adventures: Volume 15—Wildflowers

I’ve always stated spring is my least favorite season, if I had to rank them. With that being said, I absolutely enjoy the growth and change spring presents, particularly the bursts of wildflowers popping up.

Growing up in suburban New Jersey, our wildflowers included dandelions. We also had lilacs and touch-me-nots (I think that’s the name; it’s the ones that pop a seed out when you touch them, and I think my neighbor planted them).

Anyway, when I started to move around from state-to-state, I started paying attention more. 

Nature certainly unfolds in Alaska this time of year, and the transformation is hard to miss. There are more than 100 species of wildflowers just in our area. Definitely a few repeats that I’ve seen in other states, like Lupine and Asters, but for a short growing season, I am entirely impressed. 

Spring came early, and fast, this year. We first noticed the Pasque Flowers (aka Spring Crocus) on May 14th on the Triple Lakes Trail.  

The rest of May into June granted us superb weather (except for today and yesterday!), so things continue to sprout, kind of ahead of Alaska’s typical schedule. Taking walks around the neighborhood reveals something new everyday. 

I thought these were Buttercups with the Vetch, but I’m still learning. Our friend/expert Donna thinks they are wild sweet pea and arnica. Either way, beautiful!
Bears love this one that grow in gravel: Eskimo Potato 
Not sure if this Wild Iris plant is native because it’s not in my local book. Could have been planted and spread. 

And then of course when we hit the trails, there’s even more to discover. It seems like every week, the Savage River Loop has new flowers popping up.  

These were not here 2 weeks ago. 
Here’s one I wish I could photograph better: Moss Campion. I think it’s so cool-looking, but add macro photography of flowers to my ever-growing list of photography skills I’d like to acquire.

Our yard alone has Bluebells, Prickly Rose and Dogwood. I have to laugh because in late May, we were cleaning up some areas with a weed whacker and asked our friend Donna if anything looked important, particularly these thorny branches sticking from the ground. 

“Listen you Leave No Trace people,” she said. “Don’t go plowing everything over. These thorns will turn into beautiful prickly rose flowers!” I’m glad she put us in our place. We have wild and beautiful grounds! 

To think, we almost bulldozed these Prickly Rose flowers away!  
The Bluebells are aptly named with 5 petals in a bell shape. And they are even edible.
This Dogwood variety lines our outhouse path, and I love how the leaves cup the flower. 

Last, but not least, Alaska’s State Flower, Forget-Me-Not. I haven’t seen a whole lot of it on trails or roads, but our neighbor Kathy had them in her yard and gifted us some. 

I’m sure there will be more wildflower love coming through the rest of the summer. The fireweed is already blooming and blueberry season is coming soon after!! Summer is mostly upon us, except for the fact that it is 46 and raining today. 

By the way, everyone here uses the “Wildflowers of Denali National Park” book by the Pratts. Our copy is Justin’s, which he used when he was a naturalist guide for Denali Backcountry Lodge in the summer of 2003. I love that there are so many dead mosquitoes squashed among the pages. Typical Alaska!

4 responses to “Arctic Adventures: Volume 15—Wildflowers”

  1. Lindsey Taylor says:

    Yesss!! I love this post! I fell head over heels in love with the Denali wildflowers last year—the apline wildflowers are my favorite, Savage Alpine trail has so many species this time of year! With the help of one of my Road Scholar groups last year, we identified 52 different species on the 4 mile hike! Thank you for sharing—it makes me feel like I’m there.

  2. Donna says:

    Oops. I steered you wrong. It’s not vetch. It’s wild sweet pea (see page 13 in Verna Pratt’s wildflower book), and I think the yellow flowers in the patch are a variety of arnica.
    On a walk up Antler Creek I saw lots of mountain forget-me-knots, which bloom closer to the ground in tight clumps. Your photo is of the alpine variety. Both are lovely, as is the post.

  3. Jamie L says:

    That is a long time to hang onto the wildflower book! Lilacs always remind me of growing up in New Jersey.

  4. Kathy Fil says:

    Great post and great topic! Who doesn’t love flowers?! Especially forget me nots…thanks for featuring one of my favorites “true blue with a heart of gold.”

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