Northern Jacob’s Ladder – Polemonium boreale

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Alaska Wildflowers | Purple

Northern Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium boreale) growing on the rocky slopes of Mt. Thoro in Denali National Park.

Northern Jacob’s Ladder

Polemonium boreale

Genus: Polemonium
Family: Polemoniaceae
Order: Ericales
full classification



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For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.

There are no known uses of Polemonium boreale. However, another similar member of the Genus, Polemonium pulcherrimum (Beautiful Jacob’s Ladder) has one documented use as a dermatological aide.

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Identification and Information

There is very little information available about Polemonium boreale, other than it being a rare species. The single paragraph about it on Wikipedia is not referenced other than the USDA Database, and there is only mention of it as a variety in Alaskan Wildflowers by Verna Pratt.

The northern Jacob’s Ladder is a perennial herb, about 10 cm tall. The whole plant is covered in long hairs. Basal leaves are pinnate and alternate. Blue to violet bell-shaped flowers grow on a capitate inflorescence. Each flower has 5 petals and multiple stamens. The inner corolla tube is often yellow to white.

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At present, I only have one photo (below) of Polemonium boreale taken on the rocky slopes of Mt. Thoro in Denali National Park. There are many digital negatives of specimens collected on the Museum of the North (UAF) Herbarium Database.

Distribution and Habitat

Polemonium boreale is native to Alaska, British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Greenland. It lives in alpine, gravelly or rocky areas.


RankScientific Name (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae (Plants)
SubkingdomTracheobionta (Vascular plants)
SuperdivisionSpermatophyta (Seed plants)
DivisionMagnoliophyta (Flowering plants)
ClassMagnoliopsida (Dicotyledons)
FamilyPolemoniaceae (Phlox family)
GenusPolemonium L. (Jacob’s-ladder)
SpeciesPolemonium boreale M.F. Adams (northern Jacob’s-ladder)

References and Further Reading

Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 4 (Beautiful Jacob’s Ladder)

Polemonium boreale  Adams Taxonomic Serial No.: 31000, ITIS Database

Polemonium boreale M.F. Adams northern Jacob’s-ladder, USDA Database

Taxonomy Details for Polemonium boreale, Herbarium – University of Alaska Museum of the North

Polemonium boreale, Wikipedia

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