Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Botany Post

While in Alaska, I learned a few botany related things.  Everywhere I go, my eye is usually drawn to the natural world.  And if I'm on foot, well, I've been known to stop and take pictures of plants and flowers so that later I can look them up and learn what it was that I saw.  I was looking forward to going to Alaska and seeing what flowers I recognized, and also seeing flowers that were new to me.  What I didn't anticipate was 'discovering' other types of plants.

Like the moss I was amazed to see hanging from some spruce trees near Denali.  I knew that was a boreal forest region, but I didn't know that mosses which inhabit trees (envision Spanish moss in wet humid southern areas) lived there.  Upon doing some online searching, I found a really cool PDF of Alaskan mosses and liverworts that helped me to identify this surprising find as cat-tail moss.

While hiking the Bear Mountain Trail that I talked about in this post I saw and photographed what looked like pine cones growing upright out of the ground.  I knew they weren't actual pine cones, but I wasn't sure what they were.  So I took a photo for reference (a typical MO for me) and to help me remember identifying features when I had time to look it up later.  Turns out they are a kind of boschniakia; a parasitic plant that feeds on the root systems of certain trees and shrubs.

boschniakia rossica

I also saw many flowers that were unfamiliar to me.  Flowers such as:

chiming bells

arctic wintergreen

Jacob's ladder

chocolate lily 

snow arnica

fireweed (close up)

a patch of fireweed

There were also some grasses I saw for the first time:

Alaska cotton grass

squirrel tail grass

There were also several wildflowers that I knew.


wild iris aka blue flag

prickly rose

western columbine

wild geranium

No matter where in Alaska I went, no matter what the weather, I was usually commenting on the flora around me.  And, if we were out hiking, I was getting left behind as I stopped to examine the leaves and/or blossoms.  But what's the point of walking around somewhere if you aren't going to look at what's growing there?

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