Alpine Summer in Full Bloom : Wickersham Dome, AK

It’s been a mild summer in Alaska so far. Temps have been pushing to about 75 degrees in the afternoons and hovering around 50 degrees at night. The conditions could not be MORE perfect to be out-and-about!

I’m just diving in Alaskan flower identification with many of the early summer species coming into full bloom. On the way to Wickersham Dome there is a great assortment of alpine species which can be enjoyed in the open, windy areas out of the clutches of the mosquito clouds. The flowers are beautiful, and this one, 5 mile hike provided well over a dozen species of flowers in all shades of color.

Like I said, I am new to AK flower ID, so I won’t stand by these ID’s 100%. If you know I have one wrong, please tell me. I know several of those who read this blog have great plant ID skills! Also, there’s a section at the bottom of flowers I have not ID’d yet, I would love to get your input!

Low-bush cranberries were common in the open areas along the trail. These small berries are also known as lingonberries and are great to eat once rip! They’re tart and taut with a satistifying pop. These plants, like many of the alpine species, are very, very close to the ground.

Low-bush Cranberry (Lingonberry)
Low-bush Cranberry (Lingonberry)

 

Low-bush Cranberry (lingonberry)
Low-bush Cranberry (lingonberry)
A swallowtail butterfly feeds on and pollinates some low-bush cranberries near the summit of Wickersham Dome
A swallowtail butterfly feeds on and pollinates some low-bush cranberries near the summit of Wickersham Dome

Another edible plant which was common around the trail were the blueberries. They have just formed their fruits and are a rosy pink. Some more time and lots of sun will turn these little morsels blue.

Wild Blueberry
Wild Blueberry

An Alaskan specialty is the cloud berry. I’ve heard no-one makes cloud berry pie, because they’re so good you eat them all before you get home! :D. The berries form a cluster that looks like salmon spawn.

Cloud Berry
Cloud Berry

Mountain avens are small and beautiful. I actually ran into the mustache shaped seed pods last fall which in Denali National Park, so it was great to see what the flowers looked like!

Mountain Avens
Mountain Avens
Mountain Avens overlooking the top of Wickersham Dome.
Mountain Avens overlooking the top of Wickersham Dome.

The rest of the trail was scattered with many other species of flowers which can be seen here along with some of the beautiful scenery.

Lupines along the trail to Wickersham Dome
Lupines along the trail to Wickersham Dome
Pink Plumes! Not even kidding, that's their name!
Pink Plumes! Not even kidding, that’s their name!
Narcissus Anenome
Narcissus Anenome
Arctic Sandwort
Arctic Sandwort

Unknowns

Unknown flower #1, please help you know it! Sorry that I do not have any leaves!
Unknown flower #1 : Probable Cut-leaf anenome or “early thimbleweed”. Both are common names for it.
Unknown Flower # 2! If you know I would love to hear it!
Unknown Flower # 2! – Identified! Elegant Indian Paintbrush
Unknown flower # 3, if you know please tell me!
Unknown flower # 3 : An arnica species (Thanks Justin)… but now… which?

I’ll throw in a shout-out to these great sites which helped me in my Alaska wildflower ID and will be a great resource in the future:

http://www.alaskawildflowers.us/

http://www.turtlepuddle.org/alaskan/wild/flowers-1.html

I’ll leave you with a picture of a super-tree which is defying the odd by surviving on summit and this nesting yellow-rump warbler. She sure was well hid!

This pine tree defied the odds on the summit of Wickersham Dome. Somehow it's thriving when none others could!
This pine tree defied the odds on the summit of Wickersham Dome. Somehow it’s thriving when none others could!
A female yellow-rump sits on her nest along the trail to Wickersham Dome. She was keeping low, but keeping a close eye out.
A female yellow-rump sits on her nest along the trail to Wickersham Dome. She was keeping low, but keeping a close eye out.

7 thoughts on “Alpine Summer in Full Bloom : Wickersham Dome, AK”

  1. Thank you for your blogpost. It was just what this rain-weary Minnesotan needed on a day that felt like a near-Noah experience. The blue skies in your pictures are striking, and the flowers are beautiful.

  2. Hey Ian, Great pics as usual. Couldn’t help but get sucked into some plant ID. Unknown #1 looks like the Anemone to me. Unknown #2 looks like a paintbrush (*Castilleja*). Unknown #3 looks like an *Arnica *species. Let me know if those look right or what else you find out. Justin

  3. Unknown #2 might be Castilleja elegans Malte, Elegant Indian Paintbrush, that is not fully open? (alaskawildflowers.us) I’ll keep working on the others:) I hope some are still blooming when we come up!!!!!!!

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