Another attempt at a broad question I asked here earlier. My aim here is to build another cradle of civilization from the ground up, in an area that never did (for fairly obvious reasons) and in an area that could serve as a sort of connection point between the Old World and New World.

For most the part I am getting together a rough idea of what I need to do and where I want to go with things but I am have trouble getting the initial setup going, this is where the plausibility factor might be kicking this entire idea in the groin.

To get to the point are there any plants in the interior of Alaska, specifically the Yukon River basin, that could serve as a founder crop to serve as the catalyst for further plant domestication and ultimately sedentary civilization. I haven't been able to find much, not sure if its due to a lack of resources on the topic, a lack of knowledge on my part as to where to look or a lack of said plants in the region.

I mean the area could certainly provide a decent supply of food for locals, especially with proper agricultural practices, winter preparation, advanced/complex food preservation techniques, etc. For instance Alaska does produce oversized record breaking vegetables due to loads more sunlight during the summer.

Thanks again

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    $\begingroup$ "Could certainly provide a decent supply of food for locals": You mean, a decent supply of food for very few locals. "Loads more sunlight": More sunlight than Severnaya Zemlya, maybe. But just about any place in the contiguous 50 states of the USA or in China gets more sunlight than Alaska, and that's without mentioning places such as Mesopotamia or Egypt. (The point being that places at high latitudes are cold exactly because they don't get much sunlight.) The sad but simple truth is that Alaska cannot support a large human population, and certainly not without modern technology. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Dec 23, 2022 at 23:12
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    $\begingroup$ Try looking up wild rice, it's a tall grass that grows out of ponds with large grains. While i've never seen it growing up here, I imagine it defiinitely could be imported from lake athabasca or a similar climate in canada $\endgroup$
    – R. Rankin
    Dec 24, 2022 at 12:32
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP that's why we grow on south facing slopes (terraced hillsides), completely makes up for that, you just want your slope to roughly be the same angle as your latitude. In fact, per flat acre of land your actually catching more rays than you can in lower latitudes $\endgroup$
    – R. Rankin
    Dec 24, 2022 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP of course lol, I'm just speaking from personal experience btw, I live here. You have to carefully plan a farm, but if carefully thought out it can provide a similar biomass of food compared to a lower latitude (yes not scalable). Where the extreme latitudes truly have a food producing advantage though is in ocean biomass, mostly brought about by higher oxygen/gas solubility. most of the world eats fish/crab et cetera brought from such areas. There are some major aquaculture projects currently underway here. $\endgroup$
    – R. Rankin
    Dec 24, 2022 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ OP. check out the Chocolate lilly also known as "northern rice root" pretty interesting plant, actually just look at this book: fao.org/3/ai215e/ai215e.pdf $\endgroup$
    – R. Rankin
    Dec 24, 2022 at 14:45

1 Answer 1




aspen range

Aspens grow in the Alaskan interior. They will dominate an area until shaded out by pines.

Quaking aspen is an aggressive pioneer species. It readily colonizes burned areas and can persist even when subjected to frequent fires. In the Central Rocky Mountains, the extensive stands of aspen are usually attributed to repeated wildfires. It may dominate a site until replaced by less fire-enduring but more shade-tolerant conifers.

The seeds and bark of aspen are edible.


Edible Parts Much of the tree is edible. You can eat the inner bark and cambium but it is best in the spring. It can be dried, ground into a powder and used as a flour. For those who have used it, they say that this flour is normally mixed with other flours for making bread. It also can be used as a thickener for soups. This tree can be tapped for the sap and it can be made into syrup. Catkins can be consumed raw or cooked...

Your people have been working on the aspen. They keep the pines from shading them out. They select for trees with big fat catkins and lots of them. It helps that aspens can grow as clones.

Aspen is noted for its ability to regenerate vegetatively by shoots and suckers arising along its long lateral roots. Root sprouting results in many genetically identical trees, in aggregate called a "clone". All the trees in a clone have identical characteristics and share a root structure...

If you want Fat Caskin Tree to take over the area, give it room. I could imagine your sedentary aspen keepers have different named tree clones, each good for something particular - Fatty as noted above. Sweetbark the flour trees are kept as saplings to maximize tender bark production. Sapmasters are of course is made into that staple of civilization, beer.

  • $\begingroup$ my only question would be could aspen be selected for greater and thicker bark production? $\endgroup$ Dec 27, 2022 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ @andreswendish - I dont know why not. You can select for any trait. I had this idea that maybe you could eat the entirety of the young shoots (little tree clones), which a big tree produces in plenty. I live outside aspen territory so someone else will have to do the experiment. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Dec 28, 2022 at 1:23
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    $\begingroup$ See that what I figured as well. Just couldn't find anything conclusive on if it had been done with another bark tree "crop" like cinnamon. Then again the different between original maize and what we have today would point to the ability for selective breeding to be extremely powerful $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2022 at 1:57

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