Intro for Ann

Hello from Anchorage. 🙂 My name is Ann Dougherty and Im excited to start this class, albiet a bit late. I’m a self employed massage therapist and usually slower this time of year which is why I thought now would be a good time for a class, haha. I also do volunteer social media posts for the state parks department, usually writing some prose about the plants or landscape. I have a BS in Marketing but a desk job did not last long!

My botany journey has been slowly growing the last number of years. I was enrolled in the AK Master Naturalist program through the extension office around 2017. After that program was cut, I have been wanting to find another avenue toward hanging with our plant friends. I moved to AK full time in 2016 from Colorado, but grew up in Missouri. My foraging really took off up here, with my first experiment making extract with cottonwood buds. I just knew I needed that scent in a baked good, and now cottonwood cookies are my signature treat. Much that I pick I make into tinctures; I find them equally applicable to cold season put into hot water as tea, or again into baking. Last fall I did an extract of cow parsnip seed. I learned that in Persian cooking, the seeds are called golpar and are a common seasoning in Iran. When backpacking, I love making a tisane with whatever is around, rose root being such a comforting mug at the end of a day tropming. My latest project is making incense and it is so much more in depth than I assumed. This spring I collected the bud casings (term?!) from the cottonwood when they litter the ground after the leaves fully open. They smell beautful when burned, but it has been a learning curve in tools and amendments to figure out how to make a dough, curing, burn time etc. I think Im getting close to figuring it out.

Part of my goal with this class is to have some workcations in the summers either guiding or doing field tech work. I’m passionate about educating people on the importance of sustainable foraging. It truly makes me sad to see the first quarter mile of any trail denuded of whatever is in season. I have many favorite plants, but devil’s club holds a sweet space for me. Theyre so delicrate and slow growing as far as the decades it may take to flower for the first time. As well as the lightness of the wood and simplicity of the inner bark and such large leaves. Coupled with the spines, but then they come off so easily. I am interested as well in the ethno part of this class, and usually attempt to look up the Indigenous uses for our regions as well. Devil’s club wood was often hung over doors as a protective measure. I find it interesting as the joints can look like a 10-digit hand grasping on, and there is a sense of holding. Another favorite plant is the yellow glacous gentian around the Eagle Summit area. (The attached pic is from the Alaska Wildflowers website taken by Al Cook.) Pinnell is probably my favorite trail and so wonderful for flowers.

Looking forward to seeing what all I can absorb going forward!


  1. Kathleen Eagle

    Hi Ann,

    I’m very interested in the AK Naturalist program and inquired several times about it but got nowhere… sounds like it’s been cut and so maybe nobody to talk to. Maybe we can get it going again! I dabble in herbal stuff. I’ve made some tinctures and salves mainly and was very disappointed that this year I was so caught up in shorebird volunteering and birding spring migrants that I missed our cottonwood buds. I have some in oil from last year. I just love the smell and the salve but had no idea you could make cookies! Would you mind sending the recipe…I’m supposed to be avoiding gluten… I have an autoimmune thyroid thing and there’s evidence that avoiding gluten can help. I do cheat now and then… and use an almond blend flour that’s good. if you want to contact me… is my personal email or text 907 232-3789. Glad you’re in the class.

  2. Welcome Ann,
    excited for you joining the class. It sounds like you really got into experimenting with different aspects of using the flora and making extracts. The cottonwood cookies sound delicious. Eagle Summit is a magical place, I love the trails there too. If you make it to the Museum in Fairbanks, we have a live-size devil’s club specimen in the Beringia exhibit, you should check it out. It was a lot of fun pressing that one. A very special plant indeed. The ethnobotany video of the late Helen Watkins (11/16/1939 – 2/9/2016) is just awesome.

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