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 rossii (R. Br. ex Richardson) Graebn.

English: Ross' sandwort.

Caryophyllaceae, Pink family.

Published in In Asch. and Graebn., Syn. Mitteleur. Fl. 5, 1: 772. 1918

Type: Canada: "British North America" [probably Kent Peninsula], 1819–1822, leg. Richardson. Holotype: BM?

Synonymy. Arenaria rossii R. Br., in Franklin, Narr. Journey Polar Sea (Bot. App.) 738. 1823.

Alsinopsis rossii (R. Br.) Rydberg, Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 33: 140. 1906.

Alsinanthe rossii (R. Br.) Á. and D. Löve, Bot. Not. 128. 509. 1976.

Minuartia rolfii Nannf., Nytt., Mag. Bot. Oslo 3: 161. 1954.

Arenaria rossii var. daethiana Polunin, Bull. Natl. Mus. Canada 94 (Biol. Ser. 24): 201. 1940.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 1–3 cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose; sometimes vegetatively proliferating by bulbils on stems or leaves (terminal buds). Taproot present. Ground level or underground stems horizontal, or absent; stoloniferous; compact; 0.5–1.2 mm wide. Horizontal stems at ground level, branching extensively to shape plant habit as mats, or cushions. Caudex absent. Aerial stems ascending, or decumbent. Leaves distributed along the stems; opposite; marcescent. Petioles absent. Leaf blade bases cuneate. Leaves not grass-like. Blades 2–3(–5) mm long, 0.5–0.7(–1.2) mm wide, spreading, elliptic, flat or folded, appearing single-veined or with inconspicuous veins. Blade adaxial surface dull, glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins glabrous; apices obtuse.

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems two or more per plant; with leaves. Flowers solitary. Flowers small. Sepals conventional; 5; free; 1.5–2.5 mm wide (with one vein, oblong-ovate, obtuse to acuminate, and keeled); purple (soon pale yellowish); herbaceous and scarious. Calyx glabrous. Petals conventional; free; longer than the calyx; 5; white; obovate (narrowly), or spatulate; unlobed; 2–3.5 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; 0.4–0.9 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 mm long (shorter than or as long as the sepals); 1–1.2 mm wide; surface appearing veinless; dehiscent; opening with teeth at the top of the capsule; teeth 3. Seeds several; 0.2–0.6 mm long; brown; surfaces rugose.

Chromosome information. 2n = 58, or 60.

2n = 58. Zhukova (1966, Chukotka); Zhukova and Petrovsky (1972, Chukotka); Zhukova et al. (1973, Chukotka);

2n (4x) = 60. Löve and Löve, in Löve (1975a, northern Canada: Melville Island; 1982, northern Canada: Churchill); Wolf et al. (1979b, northern Canada: Cornwallis Island, Alaska: Prudhoe Bay).

Ploidy levels recorded 4x.

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

North American distribution. Wrangel Island, High Arctic North America, Greenland, Svalbard. Alaska, Yukon (?), Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited. Uncommon. High Arctic. Arctic islands: Baffin, Devon, Ellesmere, Axel Heiberg, Ellef Ringnes, Parry islands (Bathurst, Emerald, Loughead, Melville), Cornwallis, Banks, Victoria, Prince of Wales, Somerset, King William, Southampton (Akpatok, Prince Charles, King Christian, Ellef Ringnes, and Eglinton Islands).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Amphi-Atlantic, or amphi-Beringian, or North American. Svalbard – Franz Joseph Land, Wrangel Island, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay, Ellesmere Land – Peary Land, West Greenland, East Greenland.

General notes. Minuartia rossii rarely flowers and relies almost exclusively on vegetative reproduction via bulbils (axillary or terminal leaf buds), which are easily detached and spread by wind or running water, and root very rapidly (Wolf et al. 1979b). Flowering plants occur in fairly dry sites, whereas reproduction by bulbils may dominate in wet, late sites. In Svalbard, ripe capsules and seeds are very rare and are formed only in favourable years (Elven and Elvebakk 1996). Porsild (1955) noted that M. rossii flowers abundantly in favourable years, particularly in more southern regions. This observation is confirmed by Wolf et al. (1979b).

Minuartia rossii is closely related to M. stricta. Nannfeldt (1954) studied the relationship between these two taxa and recognised both as species.

Illustrations. • Habitat. Isolated cushion-like plant growing in an area with less than 5% vegetation cover and flowering on the side receiving the most sunlight. Nunavut, Ellesmere Island, Scoresby Bay, 7953'N, 7133'W. Aiken 98–025. CAN. Photograph by Mollie MacCormac. Scale bar in cm. • Habitat. This typical straggling (or polster-shaped) arctic plant is normally non-flowering but produces bulbils in the shoot apices. It may flower in favourable years and sites, even in the high Arctic. Norway, Svalbard, Dickson Land, Odindalen Valley. August, 1996. Photograph by R. Elven. Voucher at 0. • Close-up of plant. Solitary flowers with white petals that are obovate or spatulate and unlobed. Note the 10 stamens and 3 stigmas. Nunavut, Ellesmere Island, Scoresby Bay, 7953'N, 7133'W. Aiken 98–025. CAN. Photograph by Mollie MacCormac. Scale bar in cm. • Drawings of flowers. Drawing by Mrs. S. Bergh and Mrs. L. Barstad based on a collection from Svalbard, Ny-Friesland. 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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