Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Botanizing in Alaska: Low-Bush Cranberry

I still have some photos from my last trip up to central Alaska to go through. I found this plant on a drive in the vicinity of Fairbanks-AK. We drove up a mountain until we were at the tree-line. While walking around, we saw lots of this plant woven through thick mats of moss and other small plants. Though it didn't have any berries yet, I was able to find a few flowers.

Called Lingonberry or Low-Bush Cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), this plant has a circumpolar distribution. It is prominent in Scandinavian cuisine and is one of the plants I fondly remember from my childhood in Anchorage-AK. I was hoping to find a small specimen I could transplant to grow in Minnesota. The plants I found, however, spread over several feet wide (though most was hidden in the thick moss). I haven't found any research into how long the plants can live, but these were undoubtedly many years old. I didn't take any cuttings or plant samples, as doing so would have been too disruptive to the fragile plant community.


References: