Uncovering the Alaska State Flower

shutterstock 1339115708 FloraQueen EN Uncovering the Alaska State Flower

The state of Alaska is quite unlike any other in the United States of America. Its climate and terrain are quite unique. The landscape is covered in mountains, valleys, and bodies of water. The winters are long, cold, and dark. The weather is harsh and can make it hard to survive. And yet, Alaska has a beauty and attraction all its own. Come spring, the valleys are filled to the brim with native grasses and flowers. The mountains are peaked with snow caps. The frozen rivers rush with clear blue water. Alaska is undoubtedly a unique state that should be appreciated for its close relationship with nature.

In this article, we discuss:

* The Alaska state flower

* Other Alaskan flowers

The beautiful state of Alaska is actually covered with flowers during its short growing season. Their official flower is the alpine forget-me-not, or Myosotis alpestris, as it is known botanically. These particular forget-me-nots produce flowers in a shade of blue that is very reminiscent of the clear skies of Alaska. Their centers are yellow and white that provides a pleasing color contrast to the petals. Depending on growing conditions, this type of alpine flower grows as small as 5″ tall to as high as 12. They often flower in the warmest months of late June to late July.

While the alpine variety of forget-me-nots are the official flower, there are a couple other varieties that you may find when trekking through Alaska. To see a real showing of these plants, check out the Denali National Park.

The mountain forget-me-not, known botanically as Eritrichium, aretiodes can be found throughout Alaska. Though it may seem similar to the alpine variety, it does have unique characteristics. Firstly, this type of flower is much lower growing. This flower tops out at only 3 inches and grows about 9 inches wide. It spreads out in mats across the ground, creating a beautiful ground cover. Another difference comes in color. This variety is usually a deep blue, which is quite unique amongst flowers. This variety grows almost exclusively in iron-rich, alpine conditions. It does not do very well in warmer areas or where the soil is loamy.

The splendid forget-me-not, or eritrichium splendens, botanically, can also be seen around Alaska. This showy flower is similar to the alpine variety in that it has several small blue flowers with yellow centers. They grow to a similar height of 12 inches. The blue of these flowers is a little lighter, almost closer to purple. The key difference here is that this type of forget-me-not does not need alpine conditions to grow. Many northern climates produce this flower as well. They are native to those areas and can even be considered weeds. They show up in a garden without also being planted. Some gardeners are happy to leave the uninvited guests as they provide color in areas that would otherwise be barren.

Other Alaskan Flowers

For those who have not visited Alaska, it may seem like a frozen tundra where nothing grows. Alaskan dwellers would say otherwise. During the warmer months, Alaska’s rolling landscape is covered with lush greenery. If you are visiting Alaska or looking to have some Alaskan plants in your own backyard, here are a few other plants that are commonly found there.

Western Columbine – This plant sports yellow and red flowers that are usually about 2” in length. The entire plant can grow up to about 30” tall. These unique, drooping flowers show up from April to August. The flowers bloom at different times between those months, depending on your climate. Columbine can be excellent for attracting hummingbirds to your garden. Be aware, there are many varieties of columbine that may come in colors other than red and yellow. So be sure of what you are buying before you plant it. It should also be noted that many columbine varieties are self-seeding. This means they can spread themselves throughout the garden, sometimes popping up in unwanted places.

Northern Geranium – The northern geranium is a variety of the typical perennial geranium. This particular variety grows right from sea level and can still survive at low to medium altitudes. This makes it quite versatile in terms of growing conditions. Northern geraniums are a striking color of deep blue, almost purple. The flowers have noticeable veins that are even darker in color, making the flower genuinely unique. Perennial geraniums grow in a clumping habit, and this variety can grow up to 3′ tall. Be sure this variety can grow in your particular zone, as some places may be too warm. If this is the case, there is likely another geranium you can substitute, though the flowers may not be the same striking blue.

Yarrow – Yarrow is another perennial that is able to grow in many places. Different varieties can survive in different locations, though many of these varieties are very similar looking. Yarrow can grow nearly 3′ tall. They sport unique lacey looking leaves that some people find attractive while others find them to be offensive looking. The flowers yarrow that grows in Alaska are quite tiny but grow in clusters to make them look like one large flat top flower. This variety has flowers that may be both white and pink. However, yellow flowering yarrow is quite common in other locales. Be aware, there is a weed that looks very similar to yarrow and can easily be mistaken in the garden.

Cow Parsnip – This plant is something you should be very aware of if you are traveling to Alaska. It is commonly found on hillsides and along many trails and roads. The sap of the plant can cause severe burns when it contacts the skin. So, if you see this, stay a safe distance away and do not touch it. The leaves resemble maple leaves and are almost 20″ across. This plant has flat-topped white flowers that make it distinguishable from other plants.

Alaska is an attractive state with much to offer. Experience the impressive mountains, the endless sky, and the beautiful flora. Visit one of the national parks to enjoy meadows filled with the state flower the forget-me-not.

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