Eritrichium - The Alpine Forget-Me-Not
endens, Bison Gulch, AK
The Eritrichium genus (commonly known as the Alpine Forget-Me-Nots) is a dwarf circumboreal alpine group that is often particularly difficult to separate using morphological characters.
As an undergraduate working at the University of Alaska Herbarium (ALA) at the Museum of the North, I began a project to investigate three Alaskan Eritrichium species using genetic tools. Following my admission to graduate school, the project has expanded to include several putative species from the Rocky Mountains, and several Russian species from Chukotka (eastern Siberia).
I have also begun a morphological study of the Eritrichium fruit (a schizocarp) and leaves using the scanning electron microscope (S.E.M) at UAF in the Advanced Instrumentation Laboratory. The unique ornamentation on fruits in the Boraginaceae family have been used for species-level determinations for many genera including Eritrichium, and we hope to leverage this for the Alaskan, Rocky Mountain, and Chukotkan species. To the right is a S.E.M. photograph of a fruit from an Eritrichium tschutkschorum specimen, one of the Chukotkan species which appears to have unique fruit ornamentation.
Eritrichium tshchuktschorum mericarp