Native Plants / Alaska
Alaska Native Plants
A plant is considered native if it has occurred naturally in a particular region or ecosystem without human introduction. There are many benefits to growing native plants. First, these plants are better adapted to soils, moisture, and weather than exotic plants that evolved in other parts of the world. They need fewer fertilizers, and pesticides or use less water. Second, they are unlikely to escape and become invasive, destroying natural habitats. Third, they support wildlife, providing shelter and food for native birds and insects, while exotic plants do not.
Acer circinatum (Vine Maple) is most commonly grown as a spreading bushy large shrub, but it will occasionally form a small to medium-sized tree. Low-branched, multi-stemmed in habit, it usually develops multi-trunks with bright, reddish-green bark. Upright in sunny locations, it takes a delicate horizontal habit in the shade.
Ideal for wet areas, Acorus calamus (Sweet Flag) is a spreading, marginal aquatic perennial forming a tuft of erect, sword-shaped, bright green leaves adorned with one slightly wavy edge and a prominent midrib. In late spring, this plant bears inconspicuous greenish-yellow flowers in finger-like inflorescences, 2-4 in. long (5-10 cm), which give way to tiny, reddish berries. Both the crushed foliage and rootstocks have a pleasant aromatic fragrance. A great choice for naturalizing, Sweet Flag is quite versatile in the garden and makes a decorative foliage accent in water gardens and around ponds.
Perfect for shade gardens, Actaea rubra (Red Baneberry) is herbaceous perennial forming bushy clumps of finely divided, bright green foliage, enhanced by clusters of small fluffy white flowers in late spring and early summer. Borne on conspicuous red stems which rise above the foliage, they give way to pea-sized glossy scarlet berries in summer.
Incredibly attractive, Adiantum aleuticum (Maidenhair Fern) is a deciduous or semi-evergreen, perennial fern with graceful, bright green fronds which open like the fingers of a hand atop upright, shiny, purple-black wiry stems. Each finger is further divided into a series of triangular segments (pinnules).
Fast-growing, Alnus rubra (Red Alder) is a medium-sized deciduous tree of graceful habit with a straight trunk and a pointed or rounded crown with rather pendulous branches. The thin bark is smooth, mottled, light gray to whitish, and often covered with green moss. The wood, when bruised, turns a rusty red color, which is how the tree gets its name. The foliage of ovate, dark green leaves is rust-colored and hairy beneath, with coarsely toothed margins that are rolled under.
Ideal to complement colorful perennials in beds or borders, award-winner Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) is a rewarding bushy perennial topped with bountiful clusters of long-lasting, buttonlike flowers which are perfect for dried floral arrangements.
Anemone multifida (Pacific Anemone) is a charming herbaceous perennial forming loose clumps of slender, silky stems clad with long-petioled, finely divided downy leaves. In late spring to late summer, solitary, silky, poppy-like flowers, 1 in. across (2.5 cm), greenish, yellowish or purplish outside, yellowish-white inside, appear for several weeks atop the stems.
Anemone parviflora (Small-Flowered Anemone) is a charming herbaceous perennial boasting solitary, poppy-like flowers, 1 in. across (2.5 cm), with a central boss of yellow stamens. White above, the blossoms are silky and tinged with blue below. Blooming in late spring to late summer, they are borne atop sturdy stems rising from a small clump of glossy, dark green, three-parted basal leaves.
Native to Western North America, Aquilegia Formosa, commonly known as 'Western Columbine', features masses of pendant, glowing red and soft yellow flowers, 2 in. across (5 cm), with straight spurs and bushy golden stamens. They rise elegantly on long, thin stems above a lovely fern-like bluish-green foliage and bloom for weeks from late spring to early summer
Extremely winter hardy, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry) is a slow-growing, creeping, evergreen shrub with trailing red stems studded with small, leathery, glossy, obovate, dark green leaves, up to 1 in. long (2.5 cm). The foliage turns red or purple in winter before becoming green again in spring. Pretty clusters of lantern-shaped, white-to-pink flowers hang gracefully from the short red stems in mid to late spring.
Armeria maritima (Sea Thrift) is a compact, evergreen perennial boasting round clusters of pink to lavender (or sometimes white) flowers borne atop slender stalks that rise well above the foliage. Blooming profusely in mid to late spring, sporadic additional flowering may occur throughout the summer.
Artemisia frigida (Prairie Sagebrush) is a low-growing, semi-evergreen, woody-based perennial forming a tuft of deeply-divided, soft, woolly, silver-white leaves. The fine-textured foliage is aromatic (camphor-scented). In summer, small, yellow flower heads are borne in nodding racemes or open panicles, but they are ornamentally insignificant and are best cut off to keep the foliage at its best.