June 2018: Save your spruce and yourself a trip to the grocery store

Jun 16, 2018

Wild plants sometimes get a bad rap. When they’re pretty, we call them wildflowers. But usually, when they’re in our gardens without being intentionally planted, they’re weeds. And if they’re especially tenacious, like horsetail, they might get called even worse names.

But how often do we look at them as food or medicine? Tia Holley, an ethnobotanist who works in the wellness program at the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, gives us tips on how and what to pick locally.

Believe it or not, June is here. On the plus side, it’s brought a couple days of nice weather to brighten up our otherwise cool and cloudy spring. On the negative, it means the spruce bark beetles are out and about doing their thing. But there are ways you can protect your trees from infestation.

After that, farmers might be off to a slower start with the cool weather, but farmers markets are in full swing. We’ll visit the Farmer’s Fresh Market at the food bank, complete with a workshop that grows future gardeners.

Plant resources from Tia Holley:

  • “Tanaina Plantlore: An Ethnobotany of the Dena'ina Indians of Southcentral Alaska,”
  • by Priscilla Russell Kari. Currently out of print but the Kenaitzie Tribe is publishing more and Holley says they’ll be available for sale.
  • “Discovering Wild Plants: Alaska, Western Canada, The Northwest,”
  • Janice Schofield Eaton
  • “The Boreal Herbal: Wild Food and Medicine Plants of the North,” by Beverley Gray
  • “Plants That We Eat: Nauriat Nigiñaqtaut — From the traditional wisdom of the Iñupiat Elders of Northwest Alaska Paperback,” by Anore Jones.
  • USDA’s online PLANTS database
     

Alaska's interagency spruce bark beetle information site

Cooperative Extension Service, Kenai Peninsula District