Alaska is known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse wildlife. One of the most beautiful features of the state is its wildflowers.
With over 600 species of wildflowers growing across its vast landscape, Alaska boasts an impressive array of colors and shapes. From the stunning lupines to the delicate wild roses, Alaska’s wildflowers are a sight to behold.
With this in mind, we will be exploring the most common types of Alaskan wildflowers in this article. So grab your hiking boots, and let’s explore the world of Alaskan wildflowers!
1. Arctic Lupine
Lupine is a genus of flowering plants that belongs to the legume family, Fabaceae. In Alaska, the most common species of lupine is the Arctic lupine (Lupinus arcticus), which is found in subalpine and alpine zones.
Arctic lupine has striking purple flowers that grow in long clusters on tall stems. The flowers are shaped like pea flowers, with a standard petal, two wings, and a keel. The leaves of the plant are palmate, with five to nine leaflets.
Fireweed- or Chamerion angustifolim- is a tall, herbaceous plant that is native to Alaska and other northern regions of the world. In Alaska, it is one of the most common and recognizable wildflowers.
Fireweed is known for its vibrant pink-purple flowers that bloom in long spikes, which can grow up to six feet tall. Fireweed is a hardy and adaptable plant that is well-suited to Alaska’s harsh and changing environment.
The Alaskan Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis alpestris) is the official state flower of Alaska. It is a small, delicate wildflower with blue petals and a yellow center that typically blooms in late spring to early summer.
It grows in alpine tundra areas and rocky slopes throughout Alaska. It is known for its beautiful blue color and has become a symbol of remembrance for loved ones who have passed away.
4. Arctic Poppy
The Alaskan Arctic poppy (Papaver radicatum) is a small, hardy perennial plant that is also known as the “Iceland Poppy”.
The plant has long, wiry stems with waxy, yellow flowers that bloom from late spring to early summer. The flowers have a delicate, papery texture and are held above the plant on thin stems.
The Alaskan Arctic Poppy is well adapted to the cold and harsh environments of the Arctic and is one of the few flowering plants that can survive in such extreme conditions.
5. Wild Rose
The Alaskan Wild Rose (Rosa acicularis) is a shrub that is native to Alaska and is also known as the prickly wild rose. The flowers are pink or white and bloom from late spring to early summer.
The flowers are then followed by small, red, or orange rosehips, which are edible and high in vitamin C. This wildflower is known for its hardiness and ability to grow in a variety of soils and climates.
6. Mountain Avens
Mountain avens (Dryas octopetala) is a low-growing perennial plant also known as white dryas or eight-petalled dryas.
The plant has small, white flowers with 8 petals that bloom from late spring to early summer. The leaves are green and have a woolly texture, which helps the plant retain moisture in dry alpine environments.
Mountain avens grow in rocky or alpine areas and are often found growing alongside other alpine wildflowers.
7. Chocolate Lily
This might be a little disappointing, but the Chocolate Lily (Fritillaria camschatcensis) is not actually a lily, nor is it related to chocolate!
The chocolate lily has a single stem with nodding, bell-shaped flowers that are usually reddish-brown or maroon, and bloom in late spring to early summer.
The plant also has lance-shaped leaves that are green and glossy. The Chocolate Lily grows in moist or marshy areas and is often found in meadows or along stream banks.
8. Sitka Valerian
The Sitka Valerian (Valeriana sitchensis) is a herbaceous perennial plant also known as Sitka mist maiden or Sitka valerian, and is a member of the Caprifoliaceae family.
The plant has clusters of small, white, or pinkish flowers that bloom in the summer, and has toothed leaves that grow along the stem.
9. Mountain Heather
The Alaskan Mountain Heather (Phyllodoce empetriformis) is a low-growing evergreen shrub that is a member of the Ericaceae family.
The plant has small, pink, bell-shaped flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer, and has needle-like leaves that are green or grayish-green in color.
The Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) is a perennial wildflower also known as bluebell, Scottish bluebell, or blue harebell.
The plant has slender stems with delicate, bell-shaped flowers that are usually blue or purple in color, and bloom from midsummer to early fall.
11. Nootka Lupine
Nootka Lupine (Lupinus nootkatensis) is a species of lupine is also known as Nootka lupin, blue-pod lupine, or Alaska lupine.
The plant has tall spikes of pea-like flowers that are usually purple or blue, and bloom in the summer. The leaves are palmately compound with several leaflets arranged around a central stem.
Nootka Lupine grows in a variety of habitats, including meadows, forests, and along roadsides, and is often used for soil stabilization and reclamation.
However, it should be noted that Nootka Lupine is considered an invasive species in some areas outside its native range, including parts of Europe, and can outcompete native plant species.
12. Sitka Cinquefoil
Sitka Cinquefoil (Potentilla sitkaensis) is a species of wildflower that is a member of the rose family and is also known as Sitka five-finger, Sitka Potentilla, or Sitka meadowsweet.
The plant has small, bright yellow flowers with five petals that bloom in the summer, and has distinctive palmate leaves with five leaflets.
13. Arctic Bell Heather
Arctic Bell Heather (Cassiope tetragona) is a small, evergreen shrub that is native to the Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia, including Alaska. It is also known as Arctic heather, white heather, or Arctic bellflower.
The plant has small, bell-shaped flowers that are usually white or pink, and bloom in the late spring or early summer. The leaves are small and needle-like, and the plant grows to a height of 2–6 inches.
Arctic Bell Heather grows in arctic tundra and other cold, rocky environments, and is able to tolerate extreme weather conditions.
14. Broadleaf Arnica
Broadleaf Arnica (Arnica latifolia) is a species of wildflower that is also known as mountain arnica, broad-leaved arnica, or mountain tobacco.
The plant has large, yellow, daisy-like flowers that bloom in the summer, and has distinctive broad leaves that are hairy and toothed.
15. Dwarf Dogwood
Dwarf Dogwood (Cornus canadensis) is a low-growing shrub that has clusters of small, white, or cream-colored flowers that bloom in the spring or early summer, and produces bright red berries in the late summer or fall.
16. Alpine Aster
The Alpine Aster (Aster alpinus) is a flowering plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family that grows to be about 15-30 cm tall and spreads about 30-60 cm wide.
It has narrow, dark green leaves and produces daisy-like flowers that can range in color from white to shades of pink, purple, and blue and bloom in late spring and early summer.
17. Yellow Columbine
Yellow Columbine (Aquilegia flavescens) is a species of wildflower with bright yellow flowers that are shaped like bells, and bloom in the late spring or early summer. The leaves are typically green and lobed, and the plant grows to a height of 1–3 feet.
18. Beach Strawberry
Beach Strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) is a species of wild strawberry that has small white flowers that bloom in the spring and early summer and produces small, sweet, red berries.
The leaves are dark green and glossy, and are typically three-lobed. It is a creeping plant that grows low to the ground and is often found in coastal areas, sandy beaches, and rocky slopes.
19. Indian Paintbrush
Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja spp.) is a genus of wildflowers, with several species growing in Alaska.
These wildflowers are known for their distinctive, brightly colored flowers that range from shades of red and orange to pink and yellow.
The flowers are often tube-shaped and have a brush-like appearance, which gives them their common name.
20. Beach Pea
The beach pea (Lathyrus japonicus), also known as the sea pea, seaside pea, or beach vetchling, has beautiful, purple-blue flowers that bloom in the summer and produce small pods that resemble peas (This wildflower is also present in Utah. Click here to know more).
Beach pea is a hardy and resilient plant that can grow in sandy, salt-sprayed environments and helps to stabilize coastal dunes and prevent erosion.
21. Bog Rosemary
Bog Rosemary (Andromeda polifolia) is a small, evergreen shrub that is also known as bog laurel, marsh rosemary, or moorwort.
The plant has narrow, needle-like leaves that are dark green and glossy. In the spring, the plant produces clusters of small, white, or pinkish flowers that are bell-shaped and fragrant.
22. Bog Laurel
Bog Laurel (Kalmia polifolia) is a small evergreen shrub that has dark green, glossy leaves that are narrow and pointed, and produces clusters of small, pink or white flowers that bloom in late spring or early summer.
The flowers are bell-shaped and have a distinctive, intricate structure that attracts bees and other pollinators.
Bog Laurel is also known for its toxic properties; all parts of the plant contain a poisonous compound called andromedotoxin, which can be harmful if ingested.
23. Pink Pussytoes
Pink Pussytoes (Antennaria dioica) is a species of flowering plant with a low-growing perennial that typically grows in rocky, alpine environments and has fuzzy, silver-gray leaves that form a rosette at the base of the plant.
In the late spring and early summer, the plant produces clusters of small, pinkish-white flowers that resemble tiny pompoms or pussytoes.
24. Fool’s Huckleberry
Fool’s Huckleberry (Menziesia ferruginea) is a small, evergreen shrub that tends to grow to 15-30 cm tall and has narrow, leathery leaves that are dark green. The leaves are usually about 1-2 cm long and have a pointed tip.
In the spring and summer, the plant produces clusters of small, bell-shaped flowers that can range in color from white to pinkish-red.
25. Liverleaf Wintergreen
Liverleaf Wintergreen (Pyrola asarifolia) is a flowering plant with evergreen leaves that have a distinctive kidney shape, which gives rise to the plant’s common name.
In the summer, the plant produces clusters of small, white or pinkish flowers that are about 1 cm in diameter. The flowers are urn-shaped and hang downward from the stem.
26. Pretty Shooting Star
Pretty Shooting Star (Dodecatheon pulchellum) is- as the name suggests- a beautiful flowering plant that produces striking pink or magenta flowers.
The flowers are shaped like an inverted cone and have five reflexed petals that give the plant its common name.
27. White Yarrow
White Yarrow is a member of the Asteraceae family and is related to other plants such as sunflowers and daisies.
The plant produces clusters of small, white or pinkish flowers that are arranged in flat-topped clusters and have a characteristic spicy aroma.
Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) is a species of flowering plant with large, palmately lobed leaves that are green on top and whitish-gray underneath (Also check out Types Of Green Wildflowers).
Thimbleberry also has large, showy, white or pink flowers that bloom in the early summer and are followed by red, raspberry-like fruits.
29. Yellow Pond Lily
Yellow Pond Lily (Nuphar polysepalum) is a species of aquatic plant that is a member of the water lily family that tends to grow in shallow ponds, lakes, and slow-moving streams, where it can form dense colonies of floating leaves and stems.
The leaves are large and round, and the plant produces bright yellow flowers that bloom from late spring through early fall.
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) is a species of evergreen shrub that grows in dry, rocky, and sandy soils, and can be found in a variety of habitats, including meadows, forests, and tundra.
The leaves are small, leathery, and glossy, and the plant produces clusters of small, pink or white flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. The flowers give way to bright red berries in the fall,
31. Highbush Cranberry
The Alaskan highbush cranberry, also known as the Viburnum edule, is a deciduous shrub that belongs to the family Adoxaceae.
The plant produces clusters of small, white flowers in the spring, which give way to red, edible berries in the fall. The Alaskan highbush cranberry is a hardy plant that can tolerate cold temperatures and acidic soils.
32. Common Butterwort
Common butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris) is a species of carnivorous plant that is a herbaceous perennial and features rosettes of flat, green leaves that are covered in sticky, glandular hairs.
The plant produces small, purple, or pink flowers in the spring and summer. The flowers are borne on slender stalks that rise above the rosette of leaves.
33. Marsh Marigold
Marsh marigold, also known as Caltha palustris, is a perennial flowering plant with shiny, dark green leaves that are rounded or heart-shaped and grow in a rosette at the base of the stem.
It produces bright yellow flowers that resemble small, shiny marigolds in early spring to mid-summer.
Despite its name, marsh marigold is not related to true marigolds and should not be consumed as it can be toxic if ingested in large amounts.
34. Yellow Lady’s Slipper Orchid
Named for its distinctive look, the Yellow Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens) is a species of orchid that has one or two large, bright yellow flowers.
The flowers are slipper-shaped, with a large, inflated lip that is used to trap pollinators such as bees and flies. The plant also has several narrow, green leaves.
35. Lapland Rosebay
Lapland rosebay, also known as Rhododendron lapponicum, is a small, evergreen shrub that has dark green, leathery leaves that are elliptical and grow in a dense cluster close to the ground.
It produces showy, pink to purple flowers in the spring and summer, which grow in clusters at the tips of its branches.
Wintercress (Barbarea orthoceras) is a species of flowering plant that has yellow flowers that are about 1 cm in diameter.
The flowers are arranged in clusters at the top of the plant and bloom in the spring and summer. The plant also has several deeply lobed, toothed leaves.
37. Purple Mountain Saxifrage
Purple mountain saxifrage, also known as Saxifraga oppositifolia, is a small, perennial herbaceous plant that has basal rosettes of round or oval-shaped leaves that are grayish-green in color and covered with fine hairs.
It produces tall, slender stems with clusters of small, pink to purple flowers in the spring and summer. Purple mountain saxifrage is adapted to harsh growing conditions and can be found growing in rocky or gravelly soils in alpine tundra and subarctic areas.
38. Sitka Alpine Buttercup
The alpine buttercup, also known as Ranunculus lapponicus ssp. alaskensis, is a perennial herbaceous plant with glossy, bright green leaves that are deeply lobed and grow in a basal rosette close to the ground.
It produces bright yellow flowers with five petals in the late spring and summer, which are held above the leaves on tall, slender stems.
39. Sitka Mistmaiden
Sitka mistmaiden, also known as Romanzoffia sitchensis, is a small, herbaceous perennial plant with delicate, fern-like leaves that grow in a basal rosette close to the ground.
It produces tiny, white, or pink flowers with five petals in the spring and summer, which are held above the leaves on slender stems.
40. Bog Bilberry
Bog bilberry, also known as Vaccinium uliginosum, is a member of the heath family and is related to other plants such as blueberries and cranberries.
The flowers bloom in the spring and summer and are followed by dark blue or blackberries. The plant also has small, oval-shaped leaves.
The berries of the plant are high in antioxidants and are sometimes used in jams, jellies, and other food products.
41. Wild Chamomile
Wild chamomile (Matricaria matricarioides) can be found in Alaska and is a member of the aster family and is related to other plants such as daisies and sunflowers.
The plant has small, white, daisy-like flowers that bloom in the summer and are followed by small, brown, cone-shaped fruits. The plant also has finely divided, feathery leaves.
42. Western Columbine
Western columbine (Aquilegia formosa) is a species of flowering plant that is native to western North America, including Alaska. It is a member of the buttercup family and is related to other plants such as delphiniums and larkspurs.
The plant has showy, bell-shaped flowers that come in a variety of colors, including red, orange, and yellow, and bloom in the late spring and early summer. The plant also has distinctive, lobed leaves.
43. Alaska Moss Heather
Alaska moss heather (Cassiope stelleriana) is a species of flowering plant that grows to be 5-25 cm tall and has small, bell-shaped, pink or white flowers.
The flowers bloom in the late spring and early summer and are followed by small, dry, capsule-like fruits. The plant also has small, needle-like leaves.
Nagoonberry (Rubus arcticus) is a species of flowering plant that is native to Alaska and other parts of the circumpolar regions. It is a member of the rose family and is related to other plants such as raspberries and blackberries.
The flowers bloom in the late spring and early summer and are followed by small, edible, red, or blackberries.
Last but not least, salmonberry, or Rubus spectabilis, is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 10 feet tall and has thorny stems and large, palmately divided leaves.
It produces showy, pink to orange flowers in the spring, which give way to edible, raspberry-like fruits in the summer.
The berries range in color from yellow to orange to red, and are an important food source for birds, bears, and other wildlife.
The wildflowers in Alaska are not only beautiful, but also play an important role in the state’s ecosystems, providing food and habitat for a variety of wildlife.
Many of these wildflowers are also adapted to harsh growing conditions, such as cold temperatures, short growing seasons, and low-nutrient soils.
Alaska’s wildflowers add a unique and beautiful element to the state’s natural landscapes and are an important part of the state’s ecological systems.