I observed this wild plant today, September 8th, 2023, at approximately 12 in the afternoon in the Auke Bay/Valley area of Juneau, Alaska. Growing up in a state where these natural food sources are plentiful and readily available in backyards along the edge of the Tongass National Forest, off of trails, and more, I was able to observe and quickly identify this as a wild Alaskan blueberry bush. In the pictures available you can see that I observed the deciduous plant’s state of being as alive but it has definitely begun to start the seasonal process of shedding its leaves and the remaining fruit is either at its peak growth or becoming somewhat rotten. My research has concluded that its scientific classification is as follows; it is in the Plantae kingdom, in the Tracheophyta phylum (meaning it is a vascular plant), and its order is Ericales. Furthermore, its family is Ericaceae, in the Vaccinium genus, and its specific species name is Vaccinium ovalifolium but it is also known as Vaccinium alaskaense and Vaccinium uliginosum. Other common names of the plant include the early blueberry, the blue huckleberry, the alpine blueberry, and the oval-leaf blueberry. This plant is safe to forage for humans, as well as many other mammals, and plays a vital role in local ecosystems and cultures–for instance, various Alaska Native clans and Native American tribes from the contiguous United States have used wild blueberries as a fresh snack and as a fruit that can be dried/preserved to last through the winter. Specific groups such as the Alutiiq have historically and contemporarily eaten “[fresh blueberries] with meat and fish or added to Eskimo ice cream—akutaq—with a variety of other ingredients. Seal oil, lard, dried fish, fish eggs, sugar, and mashed potatoes” (Steffian 1). According to the US Forest Service, Alaska Native peoples also use the blueberry’s leaves and flowers for medicinal purposes because the naturally occurring rhizomes have anti-inflammatory properties.

Works Cited
Steffian, Amy. “Blueberry-Alutiiq Word of the Week.” Alaska Native News, 28 June 2020,
Matthews, Robin. “SPECIES: Vaccinium Alaskaense.” Vaccinium Alaskaense, 1992,

Posted on Σεπτέμβριος 09, 2023 1242 ΠΜ by leximountcastle leximountcastle


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