Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago

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S.G. Aiken, M.J. Dallwitz, L.L. Consaul, C.L. McJannet, R.L. Boles, G.W. Argus, J.M. Gillett, P.J. Scott, R. Elven, M.C. LeBlanc, L.J. Gillespie, A.K. Brysting, H. Solstad, and J.G. Harris

Honckenya peploides (L.) Ehrh. subsp. diffusa (Hornem.) Hultén

English: Beach sandwort, seabeach sandwort, beach greens

French: Honckénye faux-pourpier,

Inuktitut: Maliksuagait.

Caryophyllaceae, Pink family.

Published in Fl. Aleut. Isl. 173. 1937.

Type: Described from Greenland.

Synonymy. Arenaria peploides L. var. diffusa Hornem. Fors. oecon. Plantel. ed. 3, 1. 501. 1821.

Honckenya peploides var. diffusa ( Hornem. ) Ostenf., Meddel. Grønland 37: 225. 1920.

Honckenya diffusa (Hornem.) A. Löve, Bot. Not. 1950: 39. 1950.

Arenaria diffusa Elliott, Sketch Bot. S. Carolina 1: 519. 1821.

Minuartia peploides (L.) Hiern var. diffusa (Hornem.) Mattf., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 57, Beibl. 126: 27. 1921.

Halianthus peploides var. major Rostr., non Arenaria peploides var. major Hooker.

Honckenya peploides (L.) Ehrh. var. robusta House, Bull. New York State Mus., Nat Hist. 243–244.: 56. 1923.

Honckenya peploides subsp. robusta (Fernald) Hultén, Fl. Aleutian Isl. 173. 1937 as Honckenya; Lunds Univ. Arssk. N. F. Avd. 2, 40, nr. 1: 677. 1944; Fl. Alaska and Yukon, 4

Honckenya frigida Pobed., Bot. Mater. Gerb. Bot. Inst. AN SSSR 20: 155. 1960.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 2–8 cm high; perennial herbs. Taproot present. Ground level or underground stems horizontal, or absent; rhizomatous, or stoloniferous; elongate; 0.7–2 mm wide. Caudex absent. Aerial stems decumbent. Leaves distributed along the stems; opposite; distinctly distichous; marcescent. Petioles absent. Leaf blade bases cuneate. Blades 4–20(–30) mm long, 3–9(–13) mm wide, spreading, elliptic or ovate, flat, appearing single-veined. Blade adaxial surface shiny, scabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins glabrous; apices acute.

Reproductive morphology. Plants dioecious, or bisexual. Flowering stems two or more per plant; with leaves. Flowers solitary, or in inflorescences. Inflorescences with flowers in a dichasium; terminal, or lateral. Flowers per inflorescence (1–)2–3(–6); medium-sized; unisexual, or bisexual. Sepals conventional; 5 (rarely 6); free; 3.5–6 mm wide; purple, or green and purple; herbaceous and scarious. Calyx glabrous. Petals conventional; free; same length as the calyx; 5 (rarely 6); white; obovate; unlobed; 3.5–6 mm long. Stamens present; 10 (each with a large nectary at base); stamen filaments glabrous. Anthers yellow; ellipsoid; 0.5–0.7 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 3(–5); syncarpous. Ovaries ovate, or sub-globose; glabrous. Styles present; 3 (or 5); free; 1.8–2.2 mm long. Stigmas per ovary 1. Placentation free central. Ovules per ovary 15–30. Fruit with calyx persisting; dry; a capsule; spherical, or ovoid (broadly); yellowish; 5–8(–10) mm long; 5–8 mm wide; surface appearing veinless; dehiscent; opening with teeth at the top of the capsule; teeth 3 (valves). Seeds numerous; 3–4.5 mm long; brown; surfaces verrucose.

Chromosome information. 2n = 66, or 68, or 70.

2n = about 40. Löve (1950);

2n (4x) = 66-68-70. Flovik (1940, Svalbard, 2n = 66); Löve (1950, Iceland, 2n = 66; 1970a, 2n = 68); Löve and Löve (1956, Iceland, 2n = about 70; 1982, Arctic Canada, 2n = 68); Malling (1957, 2n = 68); Sokolovskaya and Strelkova (1960, northern Russia, 2n = 68–70); Zhukova (1965a, eastern Chukotka; 1966, northeastern Asia, 2n = 68); Johnson and Packer (1968, northwestern Alaska, 2n = 68, as 'peploides' s.l. but in the area of 'diffusa'); Zhukova, in Yurtsev and Zhukova (1972, 2n = 70); Zhukova et al. (1973, Chukotka, 2n = 66); Packer and McPherson (1974, northern Alaska, 2n = 68); Murray and Kelso (1997, western Alaska, 2n = 68).

Aneuploidy apparently exists in the species, but it seems to be weakly correlated with the morphological variation, since the different numbers do not coincide with the division into subspecies (A. Kurtto, in Jonsell 2001a).

Ploidy levels recorded 4x.

Indigenous knowledge. The Inuit name maliksuagait is known as "beach greens". Ootoova et al. (2001), in a study based in the eastern Arctic, reported this plant to have excellent medicinal properties and also reported that the succulent leaves and stems can be boiled and eaten with seal oil. Eva Aariak (personal communication, 2006) claimed that in her experience the leaves were usually eaten raw. Burt (2000), who wrote from her experiences in the central Arctic around Bathurst Inlet, reported that there is no indication that the Inuit people in that area have ever used the plant as food.

Porsild (1953) claimed that the succulent young stems and leaves may be pickled as "sauerkraut" or eaten as a potherb.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: seashores (beaches), lakeshores; imperfectly drained moist areas, seepage slopes; gravel, sand; with low organic content; halophytic.

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited (south of the Parry Channel). Common. Coastal. Arctic islands: Baffin, Banks, Victoria, Prince of Wales, Southampton, Coats (Salisbury, Akpatok and Prince Charles Islands).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar, or circumboreal. Northern Iceland, Northern Fennoscandian, Kanin–Pechora, Svalbard – Franz Joseph Land, Polar Ural – Novaya Zemlya, Yamal–Gydan, Taimyr – Severnaya Zemlya, Kharaulakh, 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.

Economic uses. Johnson (1987) reported that this plant is edible, raw or cooked, and that it has been used as fodder for pigs and sheep.

General notes. Honckenya peploides is very variable in vegetative characters, which are easily modified by local conditions and to some degree clinal from south to north. However, three or more morphological variants are usually recognised, based on vegetative as well as seed characters: (1) subsp. peploides, which is a non-arctic entity found on the coasts of Europe from northern (non-arctic) Norway south to Portugal, (2) subsp. diffusa, which is circumpolar mainly in arctic and northern boreal zones, and (3) subsp. major (Hooker) Hultén from the northern Pacific area (reaching arctic western Alaska).

The species has flowers with only female or male organs, as well as hermaphrodite flowers. The female flower has very small stamens and petals, while the hermaphrodites and males have larger petals and larger stamens. Female plants produce more seeds than hermaphrodites. In Norden (area treated by Flora Nordica), this species is almost completely dioecious and bisexual flowers are very rare (Kurtto, in Jonsell 2001a). The species is efficiently spread by stolons and often forms extensive clones. The seeds are spread by sea currents.

Illustrations. • Habitat. Plants, between the markers, growing in well-defined patches in sand and fine gravel, in the tidal estuary of the Churchill River, south of the Port, Manitoba, Churchill, Beech Bay, 5844'N, 9410'W. Aiken and Brysting 01–018. CAN. • Isolated plant in gravel: Ogac Lake. Isolated plant on the gravel shoreline. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. July, 2004. Photographic voucher only as only the one specimen was found. Photograph Michelle LeBlanc. Scale bar in cm. • Close-up of plant in flower. Flowering plant growing in sand and fine gravel. Manitoba, Churchill, Beech Bay, in the tidal estuary of the Churchill River, south of the Port, 5844'N, 9410'W. Aiken and Brysting 01–018. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Close-up of plant in fruit. Plant developing fruit, growing in sand and fine gravel. Manitoba, Churchill, Beech Bay, in the tidal estuary of the Churchill River, south of the Port, 5844'N, 9410'W. Aiken and Brysting 01–018. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Close-up of plant. Plants growing on sandy beach. N.W.T., Banks Island, 6 miles west of Sachs Harbour. 25 July, 1981. J.M.Gillett 18818. • Close-up of flowers. Petals same length as the calyx, obovate, and unlobed. Flower with 10 stamens and 3 styles. Note the nectaries at the base of each stamen and the succulent glabrous leaves. Manitoba, Churchill, Beech Bay, in the tidal estuary of the Churchill River, south of the Port, 5844'N, 9410'W. Aiken and Brysting 01–018. CAN. • Close-up of fruit. Capsule spherical or ovoid, opening with three teeth at the top of the capsule. Manitoba, Churchill, Beech Bay, in the tidal estuary of the Churchill River, south of the Port, 5844'N, 9410'W. Aiken and Brysting 01–018. CAN. • Drawing of plant. Drawing by Mrs. S. Bergh and Mrs. L. Barstad based on a collection from Svalbard, Hotellneset. 26 July, 1925. A. Heinz (det. subsp. diffusa R. Elven 1996) (This is the race occurring throughout Arctic Canada). O 200156. With permission of the Botanical Museum, University of Oslo, Norway. • 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.

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