More Wildflowers and Online Guide Updates

It’s just a little over a month before we start seeing some new wildflowers poking through the ground in the Alaska Interior. My goals before then are to 1) Get guide articles written for all the backlogged photos I’ve taken for wildflower identification and 2) (this is the big one) update all the previously written articles to follow my current template and guidelines.

At the end of this newsletter, I’ll discuss what’s new and changing. Many of these updates will make identification and browsing much easier than they are now. But, to start off this week’s newsletter, here are my three most recent wildflower additions to my Alaska Wildflower Guide (and a bonus update from an old post).

Solidago multiradiata – Rocky Mountain goldenrod

Flowering heads with tattered ray florets and disc florets of Solidago multiradiata, commonly known as Rocky Mountain goldenrod

Solidago multiradiata, commonly known as Rocky Mountain goldenrod or northern goldenrod, is a medium-sized plant in the sunflower family (Asteraceae) that grows corymbiform arrays of numerous yellow flowers. The flowers are radially symmetric and have both ray and disc florets. While there isn’t much documentation on the potential uses of Rocky Mountain goldenrod specifically, the flowers of the genus Solidago can be used to make tea or infused with apple cider or rice vinegar and then strained to make tonic herb vinegar.

More info on Solidago multiradiata in my Wildflower Guide

Micranthes lyallii – Redstem saxifrage

Persisting flowers late in the season and mature follicles of Red-stemmed saxifrage (Micranthes lyallii)

Micranthes lyalii, commonly known as red-stemmed saxifrage, is a perennial herb that can grow individually or in clusters. The inflorescence is a branched panicle with white flowers, egg-shaped petals, and smaller reflexed sepals. The petals have distinct yellow or yellow-green spots. The fruit is a deep red, two-beaked 6-12 mm long follicle with curved beaks. I found no documented uses for M. lyallii.

More info on Micranthes lyallii in my Wildflower Guide

Blitum capitatum – Strawberry-blite

There’s a bit of naming confusion regarding Blitum capitatum, commonly known as strawberry-blite. The species initially described as Blitum capitatum by Linnaeus has undergone various reclassifications over time, leading to its inclusion in the genus Chenopodium as Chenopodium capitatum. Recent phylogenetic studies, notably by Fuentes-Bazan et al., have provided evidence supporting its return to the original genus Blitum, thus reviving the name Blitum capitatum. Both names have been used in the literature, but Blitum capitatum is currently preferred based on the latest taxonomic insights.

Strawberry-blite is also commonly known as Indian paint or Indian ink, as one of its primary uses has been as a dye or paint. The inflorescence is a spice of dense, spherical globose clusters. The sepals become red and fleshy in fruit, interspersed with flat black seeds resembling a berry.

More info on Blitum capitatum in my Wildflower Guide

Delphinium glaucum – Larkspur

A terminal raceme of numerous purple flowers – Delphinium glaucum, commonly known as tall larkspur or tower larkspur.

Delphinium glaucum is a very tall flowering plant with a raceme of up to 90 flowers on a single stem. I call it Larkspur, but it has a lot of names, and barely any two databases or floras agree on the common name. ITIS (USA) uses tower Larkspur, and VASCAN (Canada) uses tall Larkspur, but it’s also known as mountain Larkspur, Brown’s Larkspur, Sierra Larkspur, western Larkspur, and the list goes on. The flowers a very showy, purple trumpets. D. glaucum is very much a look, but don’t touch plant. The entire plant is highly poisonous, the most potent parts being the seeds and new growth containing cardiotoxic alkaloids that are well known to cause neuromuscular paralysis in livestock. The toxin can be absorbed by irritated or cut skin, so it’s best to stay away.

More info on Delphinium glaucum in my Wildflower Guide

Online Guide Updates and Changes

Larkspur was my first wildflower article, published in March 2020, when I needed something to do while everything was closed due to COVID-19. It’s grown to well over 100 in-depth articles. That first post was my test run to see how long it would take to go through the numerous additions, updates, and changes I’ve made to my Wildflower template over the last four years.

I tried to estimate and prioritize some of the upcoming changes (my whiteboard above). The D. glaucum post was a test run for making all of the necessary changes (and more). I was disheartened to find that it was nearly a complete rewrite rather than an update. I estimate it will take over 200 hours to update all of my previous articles (more detailed info on these updates is below).

That said, I could use some help keeping this guide running, current, accurate, and, perhaps most importantly, easily usable. While I keep all the information free to use online, it costs nearly $1000 annually for web hosting fees and cloud storage for the thousands of photos that go into the guide. Not to mention the thousands of hours so far that have gone into researching, writing, and maintaining the online guide. There are a lot of ways you can help, from becoming a free or paid subscriber to my newsletter, making a one-time, or purchasing photographic prints, wall art, or calendars from my website.

I’ve recently put together a Wildflower as Art Gallery on my site with very reduced prices from my typical prints (8×10 prints starting at about $8).

For in-depth info on some of the many changes coming to the guide, become a paid subscriber, and keep reading below!

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