Forbs are herbaceous flowering plant species. This category includes those plant species people think of as "wildflowers" such as goldenrod, gentian, fireweed, forget-me-not, larkspur, lupine, monkshood, poppies, and violets. This is the most species-rich group of plants in the Denali National Park flora, including about 450 species of plants from 54 families of flowering plants. The families with the largest numbers of forbs in the Denali National Park flora are Aster family (59 species), Mustard family (45 species), Buttercup family (32 species), Pink family (31 species), and Saxifrage family (31 species).
Forbs occur in all habitats across the park from aquatic communities to the driest, most windswept scree-slopes and ridges. The dazzling diversity of forms and colors within this group reflects a similar diversity of physiological adaptations and life history strategies. Consider, for example, the ecological biographical, morphological and physiological spectra represented by just three of our 450 species of forbs – Scamman’s Spring beauty (Claytonia scammaniana), Yellow Pond Lily (Nuphar polysepalum), and Round-leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia).
Did You Know?
Nearly 500 vegetation plots have been installed in Denali, to monitor climate change. Warmer temperatures allow woody plants to grow at higher elevations, invading the fragile and unique plants already in high alpine tundra - and threatening the animals that depend on those specialized plants.