Plants
of Point Hope Alaska

A guide to flowering
plants
near the village of Point Hope

By the Class of 2003
compiled in 1996-97

Our Plant Study

In the fall of 1996, with the help of a grant from ARCUS, our class, the class of 2003 began a study of the plants of Point Hope. We wanted to learn the names of the plants we saw flowering near our school. We also wanted to learn more about the plants that people in Point Hope traditionally used for food and medicin.

We learned that the tundra is not all the same. Some places are wet, and some are dry. Some are exposed to the wind and some are protected. Some have rocky soils, and some have peat soils. Some places get sprayed by salt water from the sea, and some areas don't. We noticed that certain plants liked certain conditions. We could predict where we could find a plant like cotton grass, or moss campion for example.

We went to different areas and | collected plants we found there. We I brought the plants back to our classroom and used plant guides to find out their names. Then we wrote descriptions of the plants using special "plant words" we'd learned about, like palmate, which means shaped sort of like your hand. We all typed our plant descriptions into the computer using Microsoft Works.


Elder Alice Webber sharing her plant knowledge with us.

We pressed our plants in a plant press. When they were dry, we took them out and mounted them on special paper and put a lable on the them telling the plant's name, where we'd found them, and what family the plant belonged to.

We invited some Elders to come to our class and look at our dried plants so they could help us learn the Inupiat names and how the plants are used.


The North Beach in bloom in August.

We made cookies and tea to serve the Elders, and as they talked, we took turns writing down what they told us. After they left, we added their information to our plant descriptions.

The high school biology classes were studying microhabitats, and they took pictures of the plants for us. We also borrowed some photographs from the Inupiat History and Culture office in Barrow. Karen Brewster and Jana Harcharek took those pictures, and we thank them for loaning them to us for this took those photos, and we thank them.

Jessie Downey, a teacher's aide in our school, took the pictures of the Elders visiting our classroom.


Elders Kirk Oviok and Jacob Lane share their
knowledge about plants with our class.

We hope you enjoy our book, Plants of Point Hope, and help us to keep learning by sending us information that we may have left out.



photo by Baldassare Mineo

Technical name: Aconitum delphinifolium
Inupiat name: ?
Common name: Monkshood
Family: Buttercup

This plant likes damp areas. It has a rather large purplish flower. The leaves are lobed and low to the ground. This plant has poisonous parts.

USES: None. Caution. This plant is poisonous After handling monkshood you should wash your hands before eating or putting your fingers in your mouth.


photo by Baldassare Mineo

Technical name: Dodecatheon frigidum
Inupiat name: ?
Common name: Frigid Shooting Stars
Family: Primrose

This plant likes protected areas. We found them growing down in ravines, out of the wind on south facing slopes where the ground was damp. They have bright purple flowers with white near the stamens. heads turned upside down. Their leaves are basal and roundish.

USES: None.


Photo by Baldassare Mineo

Technical name: Senecio pseudo-Arnica
Inupiat name:
Common name:
Family: Composite

The plant is found in sandy soils in or near the salt spray zone. The leaves are large and leathery. The flower is a bright yellow color and shaped like a daisy.

USES: None that we learned of.


Photo by Baldassare Mineo

Technical name: Papaver lapponicum .
Inupiaq name:
Common name: Arctic poppy.
Family: Poppy

We found Arctic poppies in rocky areas that weren't too wet. The leaf is a basal and pinnate. The flower has five pedals, and is yellow. It is about 8 to 10 inches tall. The stem is furry, and so are the leaves.
The poppy flower always faces the sun so it can stay warm. To do this, the stem grows unevenly. The side away from the sun grows faster, tipping the flower toward the sun.
USES: None that we learned of.


Photo by Baldassare Mineo

Technical name: Androsace chamaejasme
Inupiat name: ?
Common name: Rock Jasmine
Family: Primrose

This plant is found on rocky tundra. The leaves are lanceolate and basal the flower has pale yellow petals and dark yellow centers. it has 5 white petals.

USES: None that we know of.

 


Photo by Baldassare Mineo

Technical name: Saxifraga bronchialis
Inupiat name: ?
Common name: Yellow Spotted Saxifrage
Family: Saxifrage

This plant is found in rocky tundra. The leaves are small and pointy with hairse on the edges. The flowers are really beautiful. They are light yellow with dark yellow spots on them 

USES: None that we know of.

 


Photo by Baldassare Mineo

Technical name: Saxifraga hirculus
Inupiat name: ?
Common name: Bog Saxifrage
Family: Saxifrage

This plant is found on wet tundra and in bogs. The leaves are small and narrow and go up the stem in an alternate pattern. The flower is dark yellow. 

USES: None that we know of.


Photo by Baldassare Mineo

Technical name: Saxifraga eschscholtzii
Inupiat name: ?
Common name: Cushion Saxifrage
Family: Saxifrage

This plant is found in rocky tundra. The leaves are small greyish-green and hairy. The flowers are smallish with yellow petals.

USES: None that we know of.


Photo by Jana Harcharek

Technical name: Artemisia tilessii
Inupiat name: saraigruaq
Common name: Tall Wormwood
Family: Aster

Found in sandy, but not salty areas like along the shore of the lagoon. The leaves are palmate and alternate. The flowers are small, yellow and clustered on the top of the top of the plant.

USES: This is a very useful medicinal plant. The leaves are gathered when the plants are fully leafed out. Don't keep the leaves in a damp place or they will mold. Dry them and then store them in a cloth bag, not plastic. They can be used for sore throats and coughs or colds. Chew the leaves and swallow the juice, but spit the leaves out.
Some people make a tea out of the leaves and drink a half a cup in the morning and a half a cup at night when they are sick.
The leaves can be used for cuts too. Lay the leaves over the cut and wrap a bandage around it. The wormwood will keep out infection. For toothaches, pack some leaves around the tooth that is hurting.
Some people use the leaves for aching joints like knees. Wrap the leaves over the aching or swollen joint, and hold in place with a cloth. Leave the leaves on for three days, then the joint will feel better.


Photo by Jana Harcharek

Technical name: Vaccinium vitis-idaea
Inupiat name: Kikminnaq
Common name: Low-bush Cranberry
Family: Heath/Ericaceae

This plant is found on wet tundra and in bogs. It has pink bell-shaped flowers, and later bright red berries. The small oval leaves are thick and shiny. The plant grows real low to the ground.

USES: The berries are picked mixed with sugar and eaten fresh. They can also be stored in a cloth bag hung up in an ice celler. They freeze and stay nice and fresh. The cranberry juice can be used to clean out your system or if someone has a urinary infection.


Photo by Baldassare Mineo

Technical name: Pedicularis sudetica
Inupiat name; Qutliiraq (wooly lousewort?)
Common name: Fern Leaf Lousewort
Family: Figwort

Found in wet areas, this plant has dark rose colored flowers. Like the common name says, it has leaves that look like ferns and are at the base of the plant.

USES: The Inupiat name qutliiraq seems to apply to all the louseworts, which makes sense since all the louseworts can be eaten. Flowers can be picked and fermented in water then eaten with oil and sugar. the roots can be eaten fried, boiled or raw. Be careful eating the roots because they can make you sleepy.


Photo by Baldassare Mineo

Technical name: Armeria maritima
Inupiat name:
Common name: Thrift
Family: Leadwort

This small plant is common along the beach areas. The flower is a round ball of pink that is several inches higher than the leaves. The leaves are long and thin and kind of greyish-green. The leaves are basal.

USES: None that we learned of.

 


Photo by Baldassare Mineo

Technical name: Polygonum bistorta
Inupiat name: Ippik
Common name: Pink Plumes
Family: Buckwheat

This plant is found in wet tundra. We found some in low areas between the airport and town. The leaves are lanceolate. The flowers are pink. the head of the flower is big and fluffy with lots of petals. The height of the plant is about 8 inches.

USES: The leaves are gathered and cooked with flour and sugar during the spring and summer. The leaves can be stored in a barrel with seal oil. The leaves can also be eaten raw.


Photo by Karen Brewster

Technical name: Oxyria digynia
Inupiat name: Qunullig
Common name: Mountain Sorrel
Family: Buckwheat

The plant is found by the lagoon on east side which is wet peat soils. The leaves are basal and heart shape. The color of the flower stalk is pink. It is about 7 to 8 inches tall.

USES: The leaves are gathered and cooked with sugar since they are sour. The can be stored after they are cooked in zip lock bags or jars.


Photo by Jana Harcharek

Technical name: Rumex arcticus
Inupiat name: quagaq
Common name: Sour Dock
Family: Buckwheat

This plant is found in damp places. The leaves are oval shaped. The floweres are on spikes, and not very big. The plant grows tall-10 or more inches. In the fall the whole plant turns red as in this picture. 

USES: This plant is gathered while the leaves are green. The leaves are cooked with a little water and sugar. It tastes a little like spinach.


photo s by Jana Harckeck

Technical name: Hedysarum alpinum
Inupiat name: Masu
Common name: Eskimo Potato
Family: Pea

This plant grows in gravelly, but kind of wet areas. It is pretty big - about 12 inches or more with lots of leaflets on branches off the stem. The flowers are purple and there are a lot of them on lined up on the top of the stem.

USES: The long root is dug up in the fall or spring and eaten either raw or boiled. It can be stored buried in the sand or in a barrel covered with dirt. This keeps them from drying out, and keeps the mice out of them.


Photo by JBaldassare Mineo

Technical name: Rubus chamaemorus
Inupiat name: Aqpik
Common name: Cloudberry
Family name: Rose

This plant is found on wet tundra. The leaves are simple and palmate, and the edges are jagged. The flower has five white petals. The plant has a berry that is light orange when they are ripe. The berry looks like a clump of salmon eggs.

USES: Pick the berries and eat them fresh!! They are good. They can also be stored in oil.


Photo by Baldassare Mineo

Technical name: Erigeron humilis
Inupiat name:
Common name: Mountain Fleabane
Family: Aster

Found in moist places. The flower is a daisy like flower that can be purplish to white. There aren't many leaves-one or two, and the leaves are long and hairy.

USES: None that we know of.

 


Photo by Baldassare Mineo

Technical name: Anemone narcissisflora
Inupiat name: ?
Common name: Narcissus-flowered anemone
Family: Anemone

This plant is found in wet tundra, like by the snowfence. The leaves are palmate. The plant is about 8 to 14 inches tall and the leaves are hairy and have 3 to 5 lobes. The flower has white petals and yellow middles. The petals completely surround the stem.

USES: None that we know of.


Photo by Jana Harcharek

Technical name: Petasites frigidus
Inupiat name: Mapkuttitaagruaq
Common name: frigid coltsfoot
Family: Composite

This plant is found in damp areas of the tundra. The large, dark green leaves are simple and the arrangement is alternate. The shapes are wedge shaped with wavy edges. There are many flowers one stem. The stems are tall, 12 inches to 18 inches high. The flowers are white to pinkish.
USES: Coltsfoot has not been used in Point Hope, though the leaves are edible. Some people use the large leaves to cover barrels of food. We learned from the Inupiat History and Culture people that coltsfoot has been used in other villages on the N. Slope for treatment of arthritis.


Photo by Karen Brewster

Technical name: Empetrum nigrum
Inupiat name: Asiaq
Common name: Crowberry, in Point Hope, its called Blackberry.
Family: Crowberry

This plant is found on the tundra. Its leaves are opposite on woody branches. They look like needles on a Christmas tree. In the fall the plants have a small dark, almost black, round berries. 

USES: Mostly people in Point Hope gather the berries and eat them fresh. The berries are also used in pies, and some people mix the berries with fish livers to make dish called tingook.


Photo by Jana Harcharek

Technical name: Salix alexensis
Inupiat name: Uqpik
Common name: Big Willow or River Willow
Family: Salix

Grows along rivers and creeks. This is a shrubby kind of willow that grows up more than along the ground like most Arctic willows. Its leaves are long and narrow.

USES: The willow has lots of uses. The new green leaves are picked in the spring, and eaten in several ways. They can be cooked, or stored raw in seal oil, and then the seal oil is used in the regular way (like a condiment) with meat. When leaves are stored they are called "sura". The leaves can be fermented in a [text missing].


Photo by Jana Harcharek

Technical name: Salix reticulata
Inupiat name: ?
Common name: Netted Willow
Family: Willow

The plant grows flat to the ground. Its leaves are almost round with lines on them that look like netting. We found it in dry, rocky areas of the tundra, though we read that it also grows in wet areas.

USES: This willow does not seemed to have been used as a food.


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