Alaskan flowers

The Alpine forget-me-not, known for its delicate yet striking beauty, is known for being cheerful, charming, and the truest of blues. The Alaska state flower is 5–12 inches tall, with fluorescent blue petals and an ornate yellow and white eye. Each petal is less than a third of an inch wide.

Forget-me-not flowers can be found all over Alaska, from backyard flower beds and sidewalks to wet meadows and rocky mountain passes. Clusters of them can be found in the middle of summer, blooming all day and evening and releasing a sweet scent.

Myosotis sylvatica, a close relative of the Alaska state flower Myosotis alpestris, is far more common and easy to find. The sylvatica variety is more common and has a wide range of flower colors (pink, blue, white, and purple), but the alpestris variety stands out thanks to its distinctive sky blue and, very rarely, white petals.

Alaska Forget-me-not

In Alaska, the state flower is called the

In 1917, a full decade before Alaska became the 49th state in 1959, the forget-me-not was officially designated as the state flower. From Nome to Sitka, pioneer communities of the early 20th century united to form a civic group known as the "Grand Igloo." The Grand Igloo, standing in for a large group of Alaska's pioneers, adopted the forget-me-not as its emblem because it exemplifies the pioneer spirit in its entirety. To honor the flower's place in Alaskan history, the blue background of the state flag features a white forget-me-not pattern. The North Star, the big dipper, and the Great Bear, all symbols of strength, are all featured on the flag, which represents the northernmost state in the United States.

The Meaning of Forget-Me-Nots

While its meanings may shift from one culture to the next, forget-me-nots are commonly associated with a wide range of positive concepts, including love, respect, fidelity, faithfulness, peace, healing, growth, intelligence, and power. The genus name for forget-me-nots, Myosotis (Greek for "mouse ear"), perfectly describes the diminutive and retiring nature of these flowers. The flower's French name, ne m'oubliez, literally translates to "don't forget me" in English, hence the name "forget-me-not." "

People from Alaska and a Forget-Me-Not flower

Many Alaska Native works of art feature the state flower of Alaska, as well as other local flowers, in intricate beadwork. Images of the Alpine forget-me-not have been embroidered onto clothing, accessories, and religious relics for centuries using bits of stone or shell and more recently, beads. Click here for more information on how Alaskan Natives have traditionally used herbs and flowers.

Forget-me-nots and many Alaskans share a special connection. Some people think it would be great to have in their gardens, while others see it, especially the sylvatica variety, as a pest that must never be planted. Forget-me-nots should be planted anytime between early spring and August, but ideally in the warmer months. Sowing seeds in well-drained, fertile soil with lots of sunlight is ideal. You can find forget-me-not seeds at any garden center or greenhouse in the state.

Flowers That Are Also Notable in Alaska

The Alpine forget-me-not isn't the only rare flower in Alaska; here are a few others:

The common name for the plant Chamerion angustifolium is "fireweed."

Fireweed is the "unofficial state flower" of Alaska and is so-called because it is often the first plant to grow after a fire. It is used to make honey and jelly and can range in height from 1 to 9 feet. In the spring and summer, you can find it blooming all over the countryside, but as the old adage goes, "when fireweed turns to cotton, summer will soon be forgotten." ”

Fireweed in Alaska

Leguminosae/Pea Family member Lupinus nootkatensis, or lupine.

The lupine blooms in June, July, and August in the tundra and alpine regions of Alaska's Interior, Southcentral, and Southeast. It grows between one and three feet tall, has hairy stems, and produces five to nine stunning violet leaflets. Both the plant and its seed pods are toxic, and they can be found growing wild in places like gravel bars, meadows, and mountains.

Lupine in Alaska

Specifically, Heracleum lanatum (cow parsnip)

Cow parsnip plants can grow anywhere from 5 to 9 feet tall, and their large green stems are topped by clusters of three white flowers that resemble maple leaves. Warning: sun exposure can cause blistering if you haven't washed off the plant's juice from your skin first. It grows in damp places like wooded trails and field edges.

Cow parsnip Alaska Image via @aven kane

The monkshood, or Aconitum delphinifolium (Ranunculaceae/Buttercup Family), is a flowering plant.

The Latin name for this plant's genus, Aconitum, translates to "poisonous plant," so rest assured that every part of this bloom can kill you. North America's most poisonous native plant is the monkshood. The flowers of this hooded monkshood, which bloom from June to August, can be found in woods, mid-alpine regions, and meadows.

Monkshood flower

Bunchberry, or Alaska Cornus (Family Cornaceae/Dogwood)

A small white flower with four petals, found in wet woods, under shrubs, and near bog margins. They bear luscious, red berries that can be eaten. Raw, with eulachon fish grease and sugar, they are a popular dish among indigenous peoples across the Northern Hemisphere.  

Alaskan bunchberry Photos by: @hoflinn

(Harrimanella stelleriana) Alaska Bell or Moss Heather.

Beautiful white bell-shaped flowers with a red exterior center are arranged in four staggered rows atop this mat-forming dwarf evergreen shrub. It thrives on the rocky terrain of cliffs, alpine tundra, and mountain slopes.

Rosa rugosa, or the Sitka Rose.

There are three different types of this shrub found in Alaska, all of which belong to the Rosa species: the prickly rose (found in Southcentral Alaska), the Nootka rose (also known as the Sitka rose) (found in Southeast Alaska), and the Woods' rose (found in the Interior region).

Sitka Rose in Alaska

Campanula rotundifolia, also known as Scottish bluebells, are a type of flowering plant in the bluebell family, Campanulaceae.

You can spot this Alaskan favorite anywhere from rocky outcrops to open tundra to coastal meadows. Its bell-like shape bobs up and down, and its ombre colors of pink, purple, and blue are a pretty complement.

These beautiful and rare flowers can be seen all over Alaska, including on scenic drives, in vast forests, along breathtaking coastlines, and on the state's many epic hiking trails.

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