Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago
English: Cuckoo-flower, bittercress,
French: Cardamine des prés, cardamine à feuillles étroites (Nunavik),
Inuktitut: Turmaujuit/tuqtaujuit, qupanaup, niqingit.
Brassicaceae (Cruciferae), Draba family.
Published in Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 32: 529. 1903.
Type: Described from Canada: Southampton Island.
Synonymy. Cardamine pratensis L. var. (beta) angustifolia Hooker, Fl. Bor.-Amer. 1: 45. 1829.
Cardamine polemonioides Rouy, in Rouy and Foucaud, Fl. France 1: 234. 1893.
Cardamine pratensis L. subsp. polemonioides (Rouy) auct. This subspecific combination has been applied frequently but does not seem to have been validly published.
Cardamine nymanii Gand., Bull. Soc. Bot. France 72: 1043. 1926.
Vegetative morphology. Plants 10–20 cm high; perennial herbs; sometimes vegetatively proliferating by bulbils on stems or leaves (the leaf rachis lying on the ground may root and form new plants). Only fibrous roots present. Caudex present (short with numerous fibrous roots). Aerial stems erect. Leaves mainly basal (before flowering), or distributed along the stems; alternate; dying annually and non-persistent (leaves are thick with embedded veins). Petioles present; 15–40(–60) mm long; glabrous. Leaf blades compound. Blades 35–45 mm long, 8–15 mm wide (for basal leaf blades). Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Leaflet arrangement pinnate (upper leaves pinnatisect with linear divisions). Leaflets 13–15; (2–)5–9 mm long (basal leaves, 10–16 mm long, flowering stem leaves); 2–4 mm wide (-7 mm wide, basal leaves; 1–2 mm wide, flowering stem leaflets); obovate, or oblanceolate (basal leaves), or linear, or obovate (flowering stem leaves); veins inconspicuous. Apical leaflet base not distinctly stipitate (if applicable).
Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems solitary; conspicuously taller than the leaves; with leaves. Inflorescences racemose; 1.5–3 cm long (in flower); 15–35 mm wide. Pedicels present; glabrous. Flowers per inflorescence (6–)8–14; medium-sized; radially symmetrical (actinomorphic). Sepals conventional; 4; free; 1.1–1.8 mm long; 4.2–5 mm wide; green and purple. Calyx glabrous. Petals conventional; free; 4; white and pink (with darker veins); without contrasting markings (petal veins conspicuous, sometimes drying a deeper pink than the petals); obovate; unlobed; 11–12 mm long; 4.5–6 mm wide. Stamens 6; stamen filaments markedly unequal in length; stamen filaments glabrous. Anthers yellow; 1–1.2 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 2; syncarpous. Ovaries oblong; glabrous. Styles 1; thick and short; 1 mm long. Stigmas per ovary 1. Placentation parietal. Ovules per ovary 16–20. Fruit stalked; dry; a silique; elongate-cylindrical; yellowish; 12–15 mm long; 1.5 mm wide; glabrous; dehiscent; shedding the outer walls to expose a thin inner wall, with the seeds attached at the margins on either side. Styles remaining straight; persisting in fruit 1 mm long. Seeds 10–11; 1.5 mm long; brown; surfaces smooth.
Chromosome information. 2n = 56 to about 100.
2n = 56 to about 100.
2n = 56. Harmsen, in Jørgensen et al. (1958, Greenland); Jørgensen et al. (1958, Greenland); Engelskjøn and Knaben (1971, northern Norway);
2n = 64. Flovik (1940, Svalbard); Löve and Löve (1944b, northern Europe; 1956, Iceland; 1982, Arctic Canada); Lövkvist and Hultgård (1999, Iceland);
2n = 64, 68. Spasskaya (1979, Russia);
2n = 60–90. Lövkvist (1956, northern Norway);
2n = 88. Zhukova (1982, 'pratensis');
2n = 90. Zhukova (1966, northeastern Asia, 'pratensis'); Zhukova and Petrovsky (1976, western Chukotka, 'pratensis');
2n = about 100. Zhukova et al. (1973, northeast Asia);
2n = 80–100. Packer and McPherson (1974, northern Alaska); Mulligan (2003).
Ecology and habitat. Substrates: wet meadows, around the margins of ponds, marshes, along streams, river terraces; imperfectly drained moist areas (swamps), seepage slopes; with high organic content, peat; acidic, or non-calcareous. Cuckoo-flower is one of the largest and most obvious members of this family in the Arctic. It grows in moist marshy areas, often along the seacoast, and is very obvious among the slender stems of the marsh grasses when it is in bloom (Burt 2000). Although this plant does produce fruit, it reproduces mainly vegetatively. The leaflets detach, and every leaflet may produce roots. The uniformity of the taxon throughout the Arctic may reflect efficient dispersal of these vegetative propagules over long distances by birds.
North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago widespread. Common. Arctic, boreal. Arctic islands: Baffin, Devon, Ellesmere, Axel Heiberg, Parry islands (Melville, Prince Patrick), Cornwallis, Banks, Victoria, Prince of Wales, Somerset, King William, Southampton, Coats (Boothia and Melville peninsulas).
Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar, or circumboreal. Northern Iceland, Northern Fennoscandian, KaninPechora, Svalbard Franz Joseph Land, Polar Ural Novaya Zemlya, YamalGydan, Taimyr Severnaya Zemlya, AnabarOlenyok, Kharaulakh, YanaKolyma, West Chukotka, Wrangel Island, South Chukotka, East Chukotka, West Alaska, North Alaska Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador Hudson Bay, Ellesmere Land Peary Land, West Greenland, East Greenland.
General notes. The name "cuckoo-flower" comes from the basal leaves that are very variable in shape, sometimes even fern-like. As a result, they are considered either "crazy" or "cuckoo".
Elven in Elven et al. (2003) indicated that Cardamine pratensis s.l. is an "intricate polyploid and apomictic complex for which there may be no ideal taxonomic solution. Some of the complexities were outlined as early as in the 'classical' study of Lövkvist (1956). Several more problems were listed and later sources referred to by Jalas and Suominen (1994). Consideration was given by Elven et al. (2003) as to (a) whether there are one or two 'races' that reach northern Europe; and (b) whether the American plants named as subsp. angustifolia and the Greenlandic-Eurasiatic ones named as subsp. polemonioides or as C. nymanii are the same."
Elven stated that he compared in the field and herbaria plants from arctic Canada ('angustifolia' is described from Southampton Island), Greenland, the arctic Norwegian islands, mainland Scandinavia, and some Russian-Siberian herbarium specimens. I can find no important difference. "Some of the American plants named as subsp. angustifolia differ from the more broad-leaved Eurasiatic ones, but similar narrow-leaved plants occur also on the European side (for example, in northern Scandinavian mountains, see Lövkvist 1956, Nilsson 1986). Broad-leaved plants, indistinguishable from the Svalbard and Scandinavian ones, are found as frequent in arctic Canada. I think we have one and only one widespread arctic race." (Elven in Elven et al. 2003).
Illustrations. • Habitat. Plants in flower, growing on drained pond bed. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Iqaluit, Sylvia Grinnell Park. 1 August, 2005. Aiken. No voucher. • Habitat. Plants growing 10 cm tall in the lush vegetation of wet sedge meadow. Nunavut, Victoria Island, Flagstaff Point. 69°03'N, 105°05'W. 26 July, 1997. L.L. Consaul 1123 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Base of plant. Plant dug up to show vegetative proliferation from the base at ground level sometimes with green leaves developing at the tips. It is suggested from the literature that these are etiolated leaf petioles that lie on the ground and develop leaflets at some distance from the plant. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–107a. CAN 586582. • Close-up of young leaf. Enlargement from the left-hand side of the previous picture. Young leaves, such as shown here, have several leaflets, while more far-reaching vegetative propagules have a single leaflet. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–107a. CAN 586582. • Older adventitious bud. Base of a plant with an adventitious bud developing from the rachis of a former leaf. Annotated by T.J. Crovello.1975. CAN 98428. • Surface view of inflorescence. Surface view of racemose inflorescence. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Iqaluit. 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–107a. CAN 586582. • Close-up of flower. Relatively large, typical flower of the Brassicaceae with 4 sepals, 4 free petals, 6 anthers and a gynoecium with an almost sessile stigma. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Iqaluit. 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–107a. CAN 586582. • Close-up of flower. Flower with four pale pink petals, four anthers at anthesis, a gynoecium with a capitate stigma, and one developing anther from the second whorl visible at the base of the gynoecium. Nunavut, Victoria Island, Flagstaff Point. 26 July, 1997. L.L. Consaul 1123 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Arctic Island Distribution.
This publication is available on the internet (posted May 2011) and on CD-ROM (published in 2007). These versions are identical in content, except that the errata page for CD-ROM is accessible on the main index page of the web version.
Recommended citation for the web-based version of this publication: Aiken, S.G., Dallwitz, M.J., Consaul, L.L., McJannet, C.L., Boles, R.L., Argus, G.W., Gillett, J.M., Scott, P.J., Elven, R., LeBlanc, M.C., Gillespie, L.J., Brysting, A.K., Solstad, H., and Harris, J.G. 2007. Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago: Descriptions, Illustrations, Identification, and Information Retrieval. NRC Research Press, National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa. http://nature.ca/aaflora/data, accessed on DATE.
Recommended citation for the CD-ROM version of this publication: Aiken, S.G., Dallwitz, M.J., Consaul, L.L., McJannet, C.L., Boles, R.L., Argus, G.W., Gillett, J.M., Scott, P.J., Elven, R., LeBlanc, M.C., Gillespie, L.J., Brysting, A.K., Solstad, H., and Harris, J.G. 2007. Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago: Descriptions, Illustrations, Identification, and Information Retrieval. [CD-ROM] NRC Research Press, National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa..