Alaska Wildflowers

There are over 1500 species of wildflowers in the state of Alaska. This collection only covers a small fraction of them but will grow over time. I’m working on photographing key identifying features on as many as I can over our short summers. This Alaska Wildflower Guide contains valuable information about each plant as well as references and links for further reading. Each post contains information on taxonomy, identification, plant uses and edibility, and each plant’s distribution and native habitat. The accompanying photo galleries may also be useful for wildflower identification and contain over 500 photos to date.

Meadow bistort – Bistorta officinalis
Meadow bistort – Bistorta plumosa

Meadow bistort is a pink-flowering perennial herb native to Alaska and northern Canada. The plant is edible, mostly the root and leaves.

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Lapland Rosebay – Rhododendron lapponicum
Lapland Rosebay – Rhododendron lapponicum

Lapland rosebay is a mat-forming evergreen shrub with scaly bark and pink to purple bell-shaped flowers. It grows in rocky, alpine terrain...

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Snow cinquefoil flowering in the Alaska interior
Snow Cinquefoil – Potentilla nivea

Snow cinquefoil is a yellow-flowering plant that grows in rocky soils. It has deeply toothed leaves ternately divided (three leaflets) and 5...

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Purple bittercress – Cardamine purpurea
Purple bittercress – Cardamine purpurea

Purple bittercress (or purple cress) is a small perennial herb with densely packed, 4-petaled purple flowers, mostly found in Alaska and the...

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Oeder’s Lousewort – Pedicularis oederi
Oeder’s Lousewort – Pedicularis oederi

Oeder's lousewort (Pedicularis oederi) is a yellow-flowering plant, often with a crimson-tipped hood on the top petal. It grows in taiga and...

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Fewflower fumewort – Corydalis pauciflora
Fewflower fumewort – Corydalis pauciflora

The fewflower fumewort is a blue or purple flowering plant with a cluster of showy, tubular flowers. It's found across Asia, Alaska,...

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Alaska boykinia flower in the Alaska Range
Alaska boykinia – Boykinia richardsonii

Alaska boykinia (Boykinia richardsonii), also known as Richardson's brookfoam is a showy, white flowering plant with large basal leaves, often found in...

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Alpine forget-me-not – Myosotis asiatica
Alpine forget-me-not – Myosotis asiatica

The alpine forget-me-not is a tiny, true-blue flowering plant found in alpine environments. It has five fused petals with a bulging yellow...

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Elegant Indian paintbrush – Castilleja elegans
Elegant Indian paintbrush – Castilleja elegans

Elegant Indian paintbrush (Castilleja elegans) is a whorled, often pink flowering plant that can be found in Alaska and parts of Canada.

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Little weaselsnout flower in Alaska
Little weaselsnout – Lagotis glauca

Little weaselsnout is a purple-flowering perennial herb that grows from a rhizome. The inflorescence is a terminal spike with purple or dark...

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sweetflower rockjasmine flowers in Denali National Park
Sweetflower rockjasmine – Androsace chamaejasme

Lehmann's rockjasmine, more commonly known as sweetflower rockjasmine, is a small, white or pink flowering plant with fused petals and a white...

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the cuckoo flower
Cuckoo flower – Cardamine nymanii

The cuckoo flower is a pink flowering plant, often found in wet soils near ponds or streams.

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Largeleaf Avens – Geum macrophyllum var. perincisum
Largeleaf Avens – Geum macrophyllum var. perincisum

The largeleaf avens (Geum macrophyllum var. perincisum) is a yellow-flowering plant that can grow to be about 0.75 meters (2.5 feet) tall.

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Flowering yellow thimbleweed
Yellow Thimbleweed – Anemone richardsonii

Yellow thimbleweed, also known as yellow anemone is a yellow flowering plant that grows from horizontal rhizomes. The plant is poisonous and...

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dwarf marsh violet flower
Dwarf marsh violet – Viola epipsila

The dwarf marsh violet is a small, purple flowering, hermaphroditic plant that grows to be about 10 cm (4 inches) in height.

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arctic blackberry, also known as arctic rasberry or nagoonberry
Arctic Blackberry – Rubus arcticus

Arctic blackberry, commonly called nagoonberry or arctic rasberry produces an edible fruit that can be eaten raw or cooked. It's flower has...

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Cloudberry flowers in Alaska
Cloudberry – Rubus chameamorus

The fruit from the cloudberry plant has numerous uses as a food. It has a circumboreal distribution across Canada, Alaska, and Eurasia....

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Grass of Parnassus – Parnassia palustris
Grass of Parnassus – Parnassia palustris

Grass of Parnassus is a white-flowering, single stem plant often growing in marshy or boggy areas (often called bog star). It has...

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Alpine azalea (Kalmia procumbens) a wildflower in Alaska
Alpine Azalea – Kalmia procumbens

The alpine azalea is a mat-forming evergreen shrub found in subarctic, circumpolar regions in North America. Flowers are 5-petaled, pink, with 5...

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Snow arnica, arnica griscomii
Snow Arnica – Arnica griscomii

Snow arnica, also commonly known as frigid arnica is a yellow flowering plant common in open and alpine areas in Alaska and...

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Water arum – Calla palustris
Water arum – Calla palustris

The water arum, or wild calla, is semi-aquatic plant typically with a large white bract and large leaves. It is mostly poisonous...

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Nakedstem Wallflower – Parrya nudicaulis
Nakedstem Wallflower – Parrya nudicaulis

The nakedstem wallflower or parry's wallflower is native to Alaska and Northern Canada, and Asia. It has a raceme of violet, showy...

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Western Columbine – Aquilegia formosa
Western Columbine – Aquilegia formosa

The western columbine is a plant with a showy red and yellow flower found in moist soils in the western United States...

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Northern Jacob’s Ladder – Polemonium boreale
Northern Jacob’s Ladder – Polemonium boreale

Northern Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium boreale) is a small perennial herb with purple or blue flowers and hairy pinnate leaves. It is somewhat...

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Largeflowered Wintergreen
Largeflowered Wintergreen – Pyrola grandiflora

The largeflowered wintergreen (Pyrola grandiflora) is an evergreen perennial with circumboreal distribution. It has a long stem with a raceme of 4-12...

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Arctic sweet coltsfoot – Petasites frigidus
Arctic sweet coltsfoot – Petasites frigidus

Arctic sweet coltsfoot is a white-flowering plant with many flowering heads. It is found in northern latitudes in North America, Europe, and...

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Woolly Geranium – Geranium erianthum
Woolly Geranium – Geranium erianthum

The woolly geranium (or northern geranium, cranesbill) is a tall purple-flowered perennial native to Alaska, parts of Canada, and Asia. Photos and...

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Mountain death camas – Anticlea elegans
Mountain death camas – Anticlea elegans

Mountain death camas is a lily-like white flowering plant in moist grasslands. The whole plant is very toxic to humans and livestock.

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Mountain harebell – Campanula lasiocarpa
Mountain harebell – Campanula lasiocarpa

Mountain harebell is a small, flowering alpine plant typically 5-15 cm (2-6 in) tall. The flower is a solitary violet upright bell...

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Arctic Daisy – Chrysanthemum arcticum
Arctic Daisy – Chrysanthemum arcticum

The arctic daisy (Chrysanthemum arcticum) is a 10-45 cm (4-18 in) tall perennial herb with white ray florets and yellow disk florets.

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Bitter fleabane – Erigeron acris
Bitter fleabane – Erigeron acris

Bitter fleabane or blue fleabane is a flowering herbaceous plant with many small, purple flowers. It goes to seed like a dandelion...

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Arctic willow in the White Mountains in the Alaska interior
Arctic willow – Salix arctica

Arctic willow is a creeping dwarf shrub with catkins that are absent of sepals or petals. It is distributed throughout the arctic,...

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Common yarrow flower in Fairbanks, Alaska
Common Yarrow – Achillea millefolium

Common yarrow is a tall, weedy plant with a dense cluster of small, white flowers at the head. It may have antioxidant...

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Shrubby cinquefoil flower blooming in the White Mountain National Recreation Area of the interior of Alaska.
Shrubby Cinquefoil – Dasiphora fruticosa

Shrubby cinquefoil is a shrubby plant growing about 1 m tall. The shrub is densely leafed with many small, buttercup-shaped, yellow flowers.

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Flower of western arctic shootingstar in the interior of Alaska
Western arctic shootingstar – Primula frigida

The western arctic shootingstar (sometimes frigid shootingstar) has a magenta or pink flower, shaped like a dart. Identification info and story around...

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Alpine sweetvetch – Hedysarum alpinum
Alpine sweetvetch – Hedysarum alpinum

Alpine sweetvetch, often known as wild potato or eskimo potato is a perennial herb with many small pink flowers on a raceme....

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dwarf dogwood flowering plant in Fairbanks, Alaska
Dwarf Dogwood – Cornus canadensis

Dwarf dogwood is a flowering subshrub with 4 white or cream-colored bracts instead of petals and a small white or purple inflorescence....

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Arctic Lupine – Lupinus arcticus
Arctic Lupine – Lupinus arcticus

The arctic lupine is a purple-flowering, herbaceous plant with a raceme of pea-like flowers. It contains a neurotoxin, sparteine, thought to deter...

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Norwegian cinquefoil – Potentilla norvegica
Norwegian cinquefoil – Potentilla norvegica

Norwegian cinquefoil is a widely distributed annual or perennial in the Rose family with ternate, serrated leaves and small yellow flowers.

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Twinflower in Denali National Park
Twinflower – Linnaea borealis

Twinflower is a creeping subshrub with a two nodding, bell-like flowers on a Y-stem. It was named after the "father of modern...

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Monkshood flower in Denali National Park
Monkshood – Aconitum delphiniifolium

Monkshood is a highly toxic plant with purple flowers, resembling larkspur with a purple hood over the top of the flower.

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bluebell flowers with a butterfly
Tall Bluebells – Mertensia paniculata

The tall bluebell is a plant named after the shape and color of the flower produced. The flowers form from pink buds...

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Siberian aster flower blooming in Alaska
Siberian Aster – Eurybia sibirica

Siberian aster is a purple, daisy-like flower found across the circumboreal subarctic including Alaska. The flower is composed of light 12-50 light...

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Capitate valerian wildflower in bloom, also known as sharpleaf valerian or Valeriana capitata
Capitate valerian – Valeriana capitata

The flowering head of Capitate valerian is typically 2-3 cm wide. The budding inflorescence is purple, and the flowers on the blooming...

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Small blacktip ragwort grows 5-60 cm (2-24 inches) tall with long basal leaves and yellow, ray-like or daisy-like flowers. It grows in a variety of habitats in Alaska.
Small blacktip ragwort – Senecio lugens

Small blacktip ragwort grows 5-60 cm (2-24 inches) tall with long basal leaves and yellow, ray-like or daisy-like flowers. It grows in...

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Spring beauty flower in Alaska
Spring Beauty – Claytonia sarmentosa

Spring Beauty is a small plant with delicate magenta or white, 5-petaled flowers 15-20 mm in diameter. It is edible cooked or...

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Mountain Avens – Dryas octopetala
Mountain Avens – Dryas octopetala

Mountain avens are an 8-petaled white flower frequently found in alpine environments distributed across the arctic and northwestern United States and Canada.

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Alaska poppy wildflower
Rooted Poppy and Alaska Poppy – Papaver radicatum

Identification and information of the Rooted poppy, Alaska poppy, and some similar species and subspecies found around Alaska. Photos of Papaver radicatum.

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Arctic sandwort - Minuartia arctica
Arctic Sandwort – Minuartia arctica

Arctic sandwort is a mat-forming plant with small, white, 5-petaled flowers. It grows in rocky or gravelly alpine environments and is native...

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Labrador Tea – Rhododendron tomentosum
Labrador Tea – Rhododendron tomentosum

Rhododendron tomentosum is a low to medium-sized evergreen shrub. Each plant has several white-flowered inflorescences. Precautions should be taken if using as...

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Wild Iris – Iris Setosa
Wild Iris – Iris Setosa

The flower of the wild iris is deep violet to blue 6-10 cm (2.5-4 inches) across with 2 sets of three petals....

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Yellow flowers of labrador lousewort taken in Nome Creek, Alaska.
Labrador Lousewort – Pedicularis labradorica

Labrador lousewort is a 5-15 inch partially parasitic plant with an inflorescence of yellow flowers. Native to Alaska, Canada and Greenland it...

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Purple Mountain Saxifrage flowers in rocky talus near the Black Rapids Glacier
Purple Mountain Saxifrage – Saxifraga oppositifolia

Purple mountain saxifrage is a low-growing, small, matted plant with dark green rounded and scaly leaves earning it the name French Knot....

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narcissus-flowered anemone on Ester Dome in Fairbanks, Alaska
Narcissus-flowered Anemone – Anemone narcissiflora

The Narcissus-flowered anemone typically has 4-10 white sepals and somewhat hairy, basal leaves. It grows up to 60 cm (23 inches) tall...

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Arctic Primrose – Primula eximia
Arctic Primrose – Primula pumila

The Arctic primrose tends to live in very wet soil and stream beds. It grows to be about 10-12 cm tall. It...

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Northern Kittentails – Synthyris borealis
Northern Kittentails – Synthyris borealis

Northern Kittentails is a small, purple flower about 2-3 cm in diameter. They mostly grow individually in rocky, alpine areas, or in...

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Common Fireweed – Chamaenerion angustifolium
Common Fireweed – Chamaenerion angustifolium

Fireweed's common name comes from the fact that it can revegetate quickly after forest fires. Each flower is symmetrical about the vertical...

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Larkspur – Delphinium glaucum
Larkspur – Delphinium glaucum

The larkspur is a tall, single stem flowering plant that grows 3-6 ft (0.9-1.8 m) in height with spurred, purple flowers. Toxic...

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Moss campion – Silene acaulis
Moss campion – Silene acaulis

Moss campion is a cushion-like plant with 6-12mm (1/4-1/2 in) diameter, pink or whitish-pink 5-petal flowers, and 10 stamens.

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Alaska Cotton – Eriophorum
Cottongrass – Alaska Cotton – Eriophorum

Most species of Alaska cotton are between 30-60 cm (12-24 in) tall with a drooping head of cotton that is whitish in...

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Wooly lousewort – Pedicularis kanei
Woolly lousewort – Pedicularis lanata

One of the early blooming wildflowers in Alaska, this pinkish flower is frequently seen in late May or early June in the...

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