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

Minuartia elegans (Cham. et Schltdl.) Schischk.

English: Elegant sandwort.

Caryophyllaceae, Pink family.

Published in Schischkin, Kom., Fl. URSS 6: 508. 1936.

Type: Russian Far East, Sinus Sti Laurentii [Chukchi Peninsula, St. Lawrence Bay], undated, leg. Chamisso and Eschscholtz. Holotype: LE?

Synonymy. Arenaria elegans Cham. and Schltdl., Linnaea 1: 57. 1826.

Arenaria rossii R. Br. subsp. elegans (Cham. and Schltdl.) Maguire, Rhodora 60: 47. 1958.

Alsinanthe elegans (Cham. and Schltdl.) Á. Löve and D. Löve, Bot. Not. 128: 509. 1976.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 6–12 cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose (loosely). Taproot present. Ground level or underground stems horizontal, or absent; stoloniferous; elongate (more so than M. rossii usually); 0.5–1.2 mm wide. Horizontal stems at ground level, branching extensively to shape plant habit as cushions (that are loose). Caudex absent. Aerial stems erect, or ascending. Leaves distributed along the stems; opposite (with small leafy fasciles present in the axils of leaves); marcescent. Petioles absent. Leaf blade bases cuneate. Blades 3–10 mm long, 0.3–0.6 mm wide, appressed to the stem or spreading (slightly), linear, flat or folded (loosely), appearing single-veined or with inconspicuous veins. Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins entire, glabrous; apices acute.

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems two or more per plant; with leaves. Flowers solitary. Flowers small. Sepals conventional; 5; free; 2.5–3.5(–4) mm wide (with three more or less prominent veins, ovate-lanceolate, acute, and somewhat keeled); purple (usually), or green and purple; herbaceous and scarious. Calyx glabrous. Petals conventional; free; same length as the calyx; 5; white; obovate (to oblong; rarely rudimentary, or lacking); unlobed; 2–3(–3.5) mm long. Stamens 10; stamen filaments glabrous. Anthers yellow; ellipsoid; 0.2–0.5 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 3; syncarpous. Ovaries ovate; glabrous. Styles 3; free; 0.5–1 mm long. Stigmas per ovary 1. Placentation free central. Ovules per ovary 10–12. Fruit with calyx persisting; dry; a capsule; ovoid, or elongate-cylindrical; straw-coloured; 1.5–2.5 mm long; 0.8–1 mm wide; surface appearing veinless; dehiscent; opening with teeth at the top of the capsule; teeth 3. Seeds 0.3–0.5 mm long; brown (reddish); surfaces rugose.

Chromosome information. 2n = 30 and 60.

2n (2x) = 30. Packer (1964, northwestern Canada); Wolf et al. (1979b, northwestern Canada, Alaska, six counts);

2n (4x) = 60. Johnson and Packer (1968, northwestern Alaska, as 'rossii'); Löve and Löve, in Löve (1975a, northern Alaska, as 'rossii'); Wolf et al. (1979b, western USA, western Canada, northwestern Canada, Alaska); Zhukova (unpublished eastern Chukotka).

Ploidy levels recorded 2x and 4x.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: along streams, slopes; seepage slopes, moderately well-drained areas; rocks, gravel, sand; with low organic content; calcareous.

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited. Rare. Low Arctic. Arctic islands: Victoria.

Northern hemisphere distribution. Amphi-Beringian. West Chukotka, East Chukotka, West Alaska, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada.

General notes. Wolf et al. (1979b) reported on the taxonomy of the Minuartia rossii complex, which they considered consisting of M. austromontana S.J. Wolf and Packer, M. elegans, and M. rossii, and confined primarily to Arctic-Alpine North America. These authors noted that previously the taxa had been recognised at various taxonomic levels and found that morphological, cytological, and phytogeographical data support the recognition of the taxa at the specific level. They stated that the three taxa differ in several independent characters, especially in sepal and petal characters, and that these differences seem to be discontinuous and specific, rather than clinal.

The base chromosome number of the complex is x = 15, with M. rossii having 2n = 58 and 60, M. austromontana and M. elegans both having 2n = 30 and 2n = 60. Wolf et al. (1979b) interpreted the tetraploid type as autotetraploid.

The three taxa have distinct geographical distributions. Minuartia rossii occurs on Wrangel Island, High Arctic North America, Greenland, and Svalbard. Minuartia elegans occurs in the Russian Far East, Alaska, Yukon, and south to Alberta. Collections from the Tundra Northwest expedition in 1999 (O and GBG) document this species as occurring in the western Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Minuartia austromontana is confined primarily to the front ranges of the northern and central Rocky Mountains and is not found within the range of this flora. Wolf et al. (1979b) suggested that the distribution patterns probably are the result of Pleistocene survival of the taxa in three different areas: the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, the Beringian area, and south of the glaciation.

Wolf et al. (1979a) studied the flavonoids of the M. rossii complex and identified nine glycosides based on the common aglycones quercetin and kaempferol and the rarer C-glycoflavone isovitexin. No difference was noted in the flavonoid profiles between the two chromosome races of M. elegans, and no geographical variation was observed in the three taxa of the complex.

Illustrations. • Close-up of plant. Herbarium specimen of a plant approximately 10 cm high with a prominent taproot and simple opposite leaves. Note the tiny flowers with dark purple sepals. Yukon, Ogilvie Mts. R.T. Porsild 224. CAN 303420. • Close-up of plant. Portion of stem showing opposite linear leaves 4–5 mm long, without petioles. In the axils of the leaves is a short stem with small bundles of leaves. Yukon, Ogilvie Mountains, P.T. Porsild 1498. CAN 318335. • Close-up of flower. Flowers showing purple sepals. Note the petals are similar in length to, or shorter than, the petals, the remains of post-anthesis anthers and, in the upper flower, an ovate gynoecium with three separate stigmas. Yukon, Ogilvie Mountains. P.T. Porsild 1498. CAN 318335. • Close-up of sepals. Flowers showing the outer surface of the purple sepals that have three more or less distinct veins and petals as long as or slightly shorter than the sepals. Yukon, Ogilvie Mountains. P.T. Porsild 1498. CAN 318335. • 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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