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 and Preserve flora, including over 450 species from 54 families of flowering plants.
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), tall bluebells (Mertensia paniculata), and round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia).
The families with the largest numbers of forbs in the park flora are:
- Aster family (Asteraceae, 59 species)
- Mustard family (Brassicaceae, 45 species)
- Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae, 32 species)
- Pink family (Caryophyllaceae, 31 species)
- Saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae, 31 species).