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!