This image created by Jeremy
Where the Flowers Grow
Alaska is the largest of the 50 states. Elevations range from sea level to the top of Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in North America. Because of Alaska's size and varied elevations, growing conditions are very different. The amount of snow, how severe the winter is, and when the snow melts, determines the blooming time of the plants in that particular area. If you take a plant out of its' environment it may not grow. Climate has a lot to do with where a plant grows.
There are three main habitats that plants grow in, although, there is a space of transition in each one where habitat features overlap. For the sake of simplicity, Alpine is defined as above treeline and often having scree slopes, Sub-Alpine, below Alpine with some trees and many low shrubs, and lowlands, which is tree line and below with many varieties of plants and tall trees.
Plants in Alpine are slow growing and low to the ground. They are slow growing because to get to a source of water, they must grow their taproot first. It sometimes takes five years for a flower to grow to the size of a half dollar. By this time the taproot is about 10 to 12 inches long. Flowers in this area grow close to rocks on scree slopes. The rocks protect them from high winds, and are a source of
. In a picture, I saw one flower even turned toward a rock, maybe because it confused it for the sun. You are likely to see the Chocolate Lily, Triangular Leafed Fleabane, Nootka Lupine, Wooly Lousewort, and Mountain Forget-Me-Nots in this habitat.
Shrubs, herbs and small plants grow in Sub-Alpine habitats. You will find Salmonberry, Devil's Club, Wild Currents, Tundra Rose, Pasque Flower, and Prickly Rose here. In areas where the shrubs are thick, the taller ones will block out the much needed sun. In these places you will find plants that grow before the leaves appear on the trees or can grow in the shade. In the woodsy areas, fire is the biggest danger to plants. It takes many years for plants to grow back after a fire.
Below Alpine and Sub-Alpine are the Lowlands. There are thick forests in this region so fire is still a big danger to these plants. Along the coast the plants are hugely affected by the saltwater. Most coastal wetlands have silt, sand, and in restricted areas, gravel. These along with the tide, prevent plants from becoming well rooted. Lowlands also consist of woodlands, meadows, swamps, marshes, and shallow open water. In these areas you will find Pond Lillies, Bluebells of Scotland, Wild Iris and Fireweed to name a few.
Image drawn by Kailey
Written by Kailey