Alaska Plants

Alaska Plants

Alaska plants have to endure some harsh conditions

Alaska plants have to be pretty tenacious to adapt to its harsh climates, short growing seasons, and generally poor soil. With Alaska temperatures ranging from -79°F to over 100°, plants have to be stalwart in their quest to succeed. Alaska plants also have to deal with acidic soil that is made up of silt, sand and gravel. The Alaska soil make-up is largely due to erosion caused by permafrost, glacial ice, and frozen rivers. Alaska soil tends to contain more nutrients because it is higher in organic matter. Alaska has 318 different soil types and nearly 15 million acres of soil that is suitable for farming.

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Giant Alaska Plants

Many crops grow to enormous sizes in Alaska due to the long summer days of extended sunlight and warm weather. There have been many world record Alaska plants: a 76 pound rutabaga, a 19 pound carrot, and a 106 pound cabbage are a few of them. Monster pumpkins over 1,200 lbs are common at the Alaska State Fair contests.

Some common Alaska plants

Devils Club

Devils Club

Devils Club is found primarily in mature or old growth forests, and so is sensitive to habitat loss as these forests are disturbed or clearcut for timber. This member of the ginseng family gets its name from its thorny appearance. It is sometimes confused in the literature with its eastern cousin, Aralia spinosa, also known as devil’s club or devil’s walking stick. Oplopanax has a tradition of use among the Tlingit, Kwaikiutl, Skagit, and many other nations within its range. It has been used as a blood purifier, pain reliever, tonic, and digestive aid.

Skunk Cabbage

Skunk Cabbage

The Skunk Cabbage is a large-leafed plant that grows in wet areas, especially near streams, ponds, marshes, and wet woods. It is easy to recognize, with its huge leaves rising directly from the ground.

Fireweed

Fireweed

This coarse, homely American weed is an annual and derives its name from its habit of growing freely in moist open woods and clearings, and in greatest luxuriance on newly-burnt fallows. It has composite flowers, blooming from July to August. Fireweed is a rank, slightly hairy plant, growing from 1 to 7 feet high. The thick, somewhat fleshy stem is virgate, sulcate, leafy to the top, branching above, the branches erect. The young shoots were often collected in the spring by Native American people and old timers and mixed with other greens. They are best when young and tender; as the plant matures the leaves become tough and somewhat bitter.

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