Koenigia alaskana has been considered conspecific with the morphologically similar Eurasian species Koenigia alpina (All.) T.M.Schust. & Reveal, but the taxa differ in leaf size and achene characters[
Aconogonon alaskanum (Small) Soják
Aconogonon hultenianum (Jurtzev) Tzvelev
Aconogonon hultenianum lapathifolium (Cham. & Schltdl.) S.P.Hong
Polygonum alaskanum (Small) W.Wight ex Hultén
Polygonum alpinum alaskanum (Small) S.L.Welsh
Polygonum alpinum lapathifolium Cham. & Schltdl.
Polygonum polymorphum lapathifolium (Cham. & Schltdl.) Ledeb.
Common Name: Alaska Wild Rhubarb
Polygonum alaskanum is an erecy, perennial plant that grows from 30 - 200cm tall, though more commonly from 50 - 180cm[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
Although no specific mention has been made for this species, there have been reports that some members of this genus can cause photosensitivity in susceptible people.
Many species also contain oxalic acid (the distinctive lemony flavour of sorrel) - whilst not toxic this substance can bind up other minerals making them unavailable to the body and leading to mineral deficiency. Having said that, a number of common foods such as sorrel and rhubarb contain oxalic acid and the leaves of most members of this genus are nutritious and beneficial to eat in moderate quantities. Cooking the leaves will reduce their content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[
Northwestern N. America - Alaska and Yukon; Northeast Asia - Russian Far East (Magadan)
Sub-alpine to alpine meadows, talus slopes and ridges[
]. Montane slopes above the treeline, steep hillsides, steep cut banks or sandy loam of rivers; at elevations from 100 - 1,300 metres[
Succeeds in an ordinary garden soil[
] but prefers a moisture retentive not too fertile soil in sun or part shade[
]. Repays generous treatment[
Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[
Leaves - raw or cooked[
]. They have an acid flavour and can be used as a sorrel substitute[
]. The chopped leaves and stems have been added to a thick pudding of flour and sugar then eaten[
Leaf stems - raw or cooked. An acid flavour, they can be cut into sections and used like rhubarb (Rheum spp)[
The juice from the plant has been sweetened and used as a refreshing drink[
We have no specific information for this species, but the seed of most, if not all, members of the genus is edible both raw and cooked, and is potentially a good source of amino acids. Unfortunately the seed is also usually rather small and fiddly to utilize[
The whole plant is astringent[
]. The raw roots and stem bases have been chewed as a treatment for coughs and colds[
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually free and easy. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer if they have reached sufficient size. If not, overwinter them in a cold frame and plant them out the following spring after the last expected frosts.
Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.