50 Natives : Alaska : Sarah Palin & Other Vixens

by Rochelle Greayer

in 50 Natives, Plants

I can’t begin to think about Alaska without my mind going to our current presidential race. So I’m taking Sarah as inspiration for other Alaska natives.

Actaea rubra (red or western baneberry) – Native Americans used the juice from the fruits of Baneberry to poison arrows, in fact the whole plant is is poisonous but typically not accidentally eaten because of it’s offensive bitterness.

Caltha palustris ssp. palustris (marsh marigold, cowslip) – It grows best in poorly lit boggy places. It is a highly polymorphic species, showing continuous and independent variation in many features – basically changing it’s characteristics whenever needed. It is sometimes considered a weed in clayey garden soils, where every piece of its root will survive and spread but In warm free-draining soils, it simply dies away. Marsh Marigolds are a welcome sight in early spring but seem to disappear as fast as they emerged. Unfortunately like the the baneberry every part of the plant is a strong irritant.

Maianthemum dilatatum (false lily-of-the-valley) - NOT real Lily of the Valley (The meaning of this flower is “You will find Happiness.” and it smells lovely) – this plant is a thug: it will take over and will quickly crowd out others. But it’s little white star shaped flowers seem so patriotic, it’s understandable why you could get confused.

So they all have a few drawbacks…but isn’t gardening (at least) all about pretty?

Alaska natives

1. Sarah Palin at GOP Convention, 2. Yellow dream, 3. Maianthemum dilatatum, 4. Maianthemum dilatatum, 5. Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris), 6. Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, 7. Red Baneberry, 8. Red Baneberry, 9. Buttercup patch