Summer on the Kenai Peninsula is a time when the world seems green, when the browns of other seasons are replaced by verdant grasses, shrubs, and leaves. But look closer, among the summer green you will see splashes of color. A few of the wildflowers and berries you may encounter throughout the Kenai Peninsula are listed below.
Fireweed: Is completely edible and very common in the State of Alaska. A member of the primrose family, its roots, stalks, leaves, and flowers of the younger plants make a tasty salad. It’s high in vitamins and contains some protein.
Wild Geranium: A pretty plant that grows short in grassy areas and has blossoms that are light blue or violet. Its roots can be refined into an effective astringent.
Wild Chive: Common to moist areas, it is very similar to the domestic chive. Tall and grass like, its leaves are best in the spring and the bulbs in the summer and fall.
Pond Lily: Bright yellow and plastic like, they grow atop the water in lakes. Growing up from the lake floor, they float via broad, spade like leaves. Their roots are a source of starch and the seeds inside its heads may be dried and popped like corn.
Lupine: A perennial plant growing throughout Alaska on dry slopes and fields. This upright showy blue flower grows on stalks that can be up to 16 inches in height. Lupines are poisonous plants and while the seedpods are interesting they are not for eating.
Forget-Me-Not: Alaska’s state flower can be found growing in sub alpine and alpine meadows and on slopes throughout the Kenai. South facing slopes are the most common areas to find this beautiful blue flower blooming in late May to June. The plant occasionally produces a pink or white bloom and is low growing.
Wild Iris: An early bloomer, it boasts dark purple blossom burgeons atop thick blade-like stalks. Common in sunny spots along riverbanks and lake shores.
Blueberry: Look in woodland clearings this plant grows low to the ground. Allover the Kenai Peninsula especially on trails, be careful as you are in bear country. They are available in late July to September.
Currant: A shrub that can reach 5 feet tall. The berry is black or red, smooth and translucent. Find them in the woods or swamps and sub-alpine areas available in late summer.
Watermelon Berry: The fruit is yellowish white or orange or light red when ripe. Found in the woods similar to one grape on a stalk. Available in the spring with a cucumber-like flavor.
Please consult a reference manual before attempting to eat any wild plant or berry. More information on all of the flowers and berries can be found at the cooperative extension office (907) 262-5824.