Introduction Summer 2023

My name is Emily Becker and I live on Dena’ina Ełnena in Anchorage.  Without much formal botany training, I depend a lot on flowers, leaves and colors to identify plants. I usually use a book or simple ID aid when I go to a new place. I enjoy going to the visitor’s center and finding a display or field guide to bring on hikes. I also enjoy occasionally using digital field guides for the phone, but I have never committed to one since they seem a little pricey and also prone to mistakes.

Years ago, when I first started working as a naturalist, I thought it was important to know plant names–and it is. But my reasons were a little shallow: I thought it was important to know as much as possible in order to answer questions from visitors. As years went by, I became more interested in simply observing and enjoying the presence of plants, and it was less important to me to be the authority on plant names. Helping people to foster a feeling of connection seemed more valuable than filling them with information. However, lately I have returned to a desire to know more scientific information about plants and to know their scientific names. Especially since I am now very interested in foraging, and it’s important to correctly ID plants for safety reasons. But I also just enjoy seeing and being among them, and taking time to just enjoy. I also grow a lot of vegetables, herbs and flowers, and I love gardening. I am hoping to pursue an interdisciplinary master’s degree at UAF in Ethnobotany, and this class seemed like an important foundation to have.

I’ve ordered a camera attachment for my old iPhone and I’m excited to use it. I hope it arrives before next week as I am traveling to rural Alaska and I’ll be without internet for a week. In the meantime, here are some photos of some beloved plants. Edit: updated with a photo from my new macro lens!

Solanum lycopersicum cultivar Esterina
Monarda citriodora Lemon Bee Balm
Updated to add a photo with the new Xenvo Pro macro lens! Fragaria x ananassa, unknown variety


  1. Denise Wally

    Hi Emily! I am so excited that we are taking this together (though I wish it were in person)! Ian and I were in Ebot Seminar class together last semester and we missed having you there too! Wishing you a great summer and looking forward to seeing your posts and pictures!

  2. Welcome Emily,
    it is great to read your journey with plants. My undergraduate degree is in horticulture so I very much appreciate growing plants, both for consumption, but also as landscape plants, and of course just being around them and being awed by their sheer beauty. My first peonies have started flowering and it is one of my favorite times of year. I do appreciate the native flora and all of its beauty when you look closely at them. Enjoy the class and all the beauty Alaska has to offer.

  3. Ian Patten

    Hi Emily!! Nice to see you again 🙂

    I was just checking out your observations on iNaturalist and reminiscing about bolete hunting last year! Are you out near Nome now?

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