WILD FLOWERS (Historic Information)

"Alaska is a land of flowers and ferns and mosses. It is probable that more than 2,000 species of flowering plants and shrubs find a home within its borders, to say nothing of the hundreds of less conspicuous ferns and grasses, of which latter there are said to be more than 40 varieties.

"Many of these are species common to circumpolar regions, and some of them were distributed by the Russian botanists a hundred years ago, so that not a few are the common garden flowers of the States. Red and yellow columbines, blue lipines, aconite or monkshood and larkspur give color to the forest borders; yellow and white water lilies keep company with purple flags in the marshy grounds; the tundras are gay with dandelions, buttercups and daisies, and the hillsides are covered with acres of blue forget-me-nots, white heather and pink roses by the hundreds of thousands.

"The fireweed flaunts its magenta blossoms everywhere, while the huge leaves of the skunk cabbage and devils club guard the borders of every runlet in company with the riotous salmon berries. These for the valleys. As you climb the mountains, gentians, saxifrage and lady slippers, cyclamens and asters, and hundreds of others in all colors and names known only to the botanists, help to paint the picture. The white daisies of the Tanana rival the Shasta daisies of Burbank in size and purity of color; violets, both blue and yellow, are among the early blossoms, along with the anemones, and the little dwarf dogwood or bunch berry in company with the delicate wood fern carpets the open wood with vivid green and silver stars, as it does the forests of Washington.

"This is no land of perpetual ice and snow. Glaciers there are, as in Switzerland, but the flowers blossom at their very feet, and it is an easy matter to gather a hundred varieties of flowers without walking more than a mile from home, unless it be in the farthest north, and even there Flora's footsteps have left some of her treasures, be they nothing more than the silken white seed pods of the rushes, flecking the tundra like snow drops.

"To the eastern tourist, with his or her preconceived ideas, it is a constant source of surprise to see pansies, marigolds, poppies and nasturtiums flourishing on what was supposed to be a frozen wilderness, while the rapidity with which they grow and become acclimated is astonishing.

"The California poppy, with its blazing orange, native though it be of warmer climes, seeds itself as far north as Fairbanks and Dawson, and the weeds of the states have not been slow to follow its example."—From "Alaska," published by Alaska Bureau, Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

Back to Table of Contents