Murphy Dome Wildflowers

Murphy Dome Wildflowers
Snow arnica was exploding all over Murphy Dome

I planned on hiking near Wickersham Dome on Friday, but when I checked the weather radar, it looked like rain and storms were moving into the area. I thought I’d have more time if I headed west, so I drove up Murphy Dome on the northwest side of Fairbanks. As much as I want to get good hikes in, we’re also entering peak wildflower season. I’m trying to photograph as many different species as possible so that I can publish an Alaska Wildflower Guidebook later this year.

It might have been the prettiest day I’ve had outside all year.

Storms to the east with blue sky over Murphy Dome
Dryas octopetala in the tundra (flower IDs below)
The ATV trail that heads down to the Chatanika River
A few of the rock outcrops out in the tundra

That means getting to as many different areas as possible in as many different zones as possible. I’m unsure how this happened, but I haven’t been up to Murphy Dome since 2021 (according to my photo records). I spent at least a couple of days a year skiing, picking berries, or walking the dog in winter and summer almost every year. I guess it’s slipped my attention the last few years.

The walk proved incredibly fruitful. It was also a gorgeous day with just enough of a breeze to make the bugs tolerable. There was visibly a lot of rain off to the northeast, so it was probably a good choice to avoid Wickersham Dome. Over approximately four and a half hours, I identified and photographed over 30 species of blooming wildflowers!

Actually, it was 36. It was likely more because I had a few of the genera Carex (true sedges), Pedicularis (louseworts), and Salix (willow) that all likely included multiple species. I’ve included one photo of each flower below with a link to my flora guide if it exists.

The budding flower head of Valeriana capitata, commonly known as capitate valerian.
Flowers and leaves of Rubus chameamorus, commonly known as cloudberry.
Heartleaf saxifrage (Micranthes nelsoniana)
The floral spike of Lupinus arcticus, commonly known as arctic lupine
Dark purple groundsel or purple-haired groundsel (Tephroseris frigida)
White arctic mountain heather (Cassiope tetragona)
Bog rosemary (Andromeda polifolia)
Nakedstem wallflower (Parrya nudicaulis)
Female willow catkin (Genus Salix)
Cottongrass (Genus Eriophorum)
Labrador lousewort (Pedicularis labradorica)
Arctic willow (Salix arctica)
Meadow bistort (Bistorta plumosa)
Purple featherling (Tofieldia coccinea)
Longstalk sandwort (Stellaria longipes)

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Arctic wintergreen (Pyrola grandiflora)
Capitate lousewort (Pedicularis capitata)
One of the true sedges (genus Carex)
Prickly saxifrage (Saxifragea tricuspidata)
Arctic stitchwort (Minuartia arctica)
Eightpetal mountain avens (Dryas octopetala)
Tall Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium acutiflorum)
Bog bilberry (Vaccinium uliginosum)
Canadian bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)
Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea)
Snow cinquefoil (Potentilla nivea)
Fireweed beginning to bloom (Chamaenerion angustifolium)
Fries’ pussytoes (Antennaria friesiana)
Arctic sweet coltsfoot (Petasites frigidus)
Narcissus-flowered anemone (Anemone narcissiflora)
Mountain harebell (Campanula lasiocarpa)
Steven’s spiraea (Spiraea stevenii)
Larkspurleaf monkshood (Aconitum delphiniifolium)
Langsford’s lousewort (Pedicularis langsdorfii – guide coming soon) – mainly distinguishable from woolly lousewort (Pedicularis lanata) by the little teeth on the upper hood of the flower

I’ll be trying to catch up with my trip reports and finish some new articles for the wildflower guide later this week. It’s tough because every time it’s nice out and I’m not at work, I’m getting out trying to find new flowers. It took me an entire day for just these photo edits, identifications, captions, etc.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a better day for finding so many distinct species of wildflowers in bloom. You can check out all the photos, landscapes, and flowers in my daily gallery here (or the slideshow below: June 6, 2024.



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