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

Sagina nivalis (Lindblom) Fries

English: Snow pearlwort,

French: Sagine des neiges.

Caryophyllaceae, Pink family.

Published in Novit. Fl. Suec. Mant. 3: 31. 1842 (July).

Type: Norway, Sør-Trøndelag, Oppdal, Kongsvold, 18.09.1839, leg. Lindblom (LD) "lectotype", selected by Nilsson in Jonsell, Nord. J. Bot. 16: 6. 1996. The specimen is a neotype, as it was collected one year after Lindblom published the name. No collection of Lindblom predating the publication has been found.

Synonymy. Spergula saginoides L. var. (beta) nivalis Lindblom, Physiogr. Sällsk. Tidskr. 1: 328. 1838.

Spergella intermedia Fenzl in Ledeb., Fl. Ross. 1: 339. 1842 (October).

Vegetative morphology. Plants 3–4 cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose. Taproot present. Ground level or underground stems horizontal, or absent; stoloniferous; compact; 0.5–0.8 mm wide. Caudex absent. Aerial stems erect, or decumbent. Leaves distributed along the stems, or basal in a rosette; opposite; marcescent (persistent old leaves are sparse). Petioles absent. Leaf blade bases cuneate. Blades 5–12 mm long, 0.8–1.2 mm wide, spreading, linear, flat, with inconspicuous veins. Blade adaxial surface dull, glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins glabrous; apices acuminate (some leaves mucronate).

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems two or more per plant; with leaves. Flowers solitary. Flowers small. Sepals conventional; 4 (usually), or 5; free; 1.4–2.7 mm wide; green and purple; herbaceous, or herbaceous and scarious. Calyx glabrous. Petals conventional; free; same length as the calyx; 4 (usually), or 5; white; lanceolate; unlobed; 1.4–2.7 mm long. Stamens (4–)5–10; stamen filaments glabrous. Anthers yellow; ellipsoid; 0.2–0.3 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 4, or 5; syncarpous. Ovaries ovate; glabrous. Styles present; 4, or 5; free; 0.4–0.6 mm long. Stigmas per ovary 1. Placentation free central. Ovules per ovary 8–15. Fruit with calyx persisting; dry; a capsule; ovoid; straw-coloured; 2–3 mm long; 1.5–2 mm wide; surface appearing veinless; dehiscent; opening with teeth at the top of the capsule (splitting almost to the base); teeth 4 (usually), or 5. Seeds several; (0.4–)0.7–0.9 mm long; brown; surfaces verrucose.

Chromosome information. 2n = 56 (84 to about 88).

2n = 56. Johnson and Packer (1968, northwestern Alaska); Löve (1970a); Packer and McPherson (1974, northern Alaska); Löve and Löve, in Löve (1975a);

2n = 84 to about 88. Löve and Löve (1948, northern Europe; 1956, Iceland, 2n = 88); Blackburn and Morton (1957, northern Europe, 2n = 84); Crow (1978, North America, 2n = about 88). The identity of the voucher specimens for these chromosome counts needs to be verified.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: along streams, river terraces; seepage slopes; gravel, sand, clay; with low organic content; acidic, or calcareous. Growing on sandy or gravelly beaches, coastal rocks, alluvial plains, fresh glacial moraines and low, swampy tundra and in alpine areas.

North American distribution. Widely distributed in the Arctic Archipelago (Crow 1976). Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago widespread. Uncommon. Arctic. Arctic islands: Baffin, Devon, Ellesmere, Axel Heiberg, Parry islands (Melville and Prince Patrick), Cornwallis, Banks, Victoria (Akpatok Island).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar. Northern Iceland, Northern Fennoscandian, Kanin–Pechora, Svalbard – Franz Joseph Land, Polar Ural – Novaya Zemlya, Yamal–Gydan, Taimyr – Severnaya Zemlya, Anabar–Olenyok, Kharaulakh, West Chukotka, Wrangel Island, East Chukotka, West Alaska, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay, Ellesmere Land – Peary Land, West Greenland, East Greenland.

General notes. Crow (1978) noted that the name Sagina intermedia has been widely used, but adopted S. nivalis as the correct name for the taxon, stating that no original type material of either name appears to exist. Lindblom's description in 1838 and the even more detailed descriptions by Fries in 1842, given when he elevated the taxon to specific rank, clearly refer to the same taxon published as S. intermedia by Fenzl in 1842. The name S. nivalis (July 1842) has priority over S. intermedia (October 1842; Elven et al. 2003).

Sagina nivalis, which is usually an Arctic species in North America, occurs as a disjunct population in Alberta. Plants on Mt. Edith Cavell, Jasper National Park, representing morphologically good S. nivalis (confirmed by chromosome count of 2n = 88, by J.K. Morton), occur mixed with S. saginoides. Specimens appearing intermediate between the two taxa are present there and occur occasionally elsewhere in Jasper and Banff National Parks.

The neotype of the name S. nivalis, on a specimen collected and annotated as such by Lindblom (even if after the publication), ensures a stable application of the name (Elven, personal communication, 2005).

Crow (1978) noted that there are several specimens from alpine habitats in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming which are suggestive of S. nivalis. Although these 5-merous specimens are densely caespitose and the sepal margins are distinctly purple, they belong to S. saginoides. However, a few 4- and 5-merous specimens from Colorado do appear to be truly intermediate between the two taxa. J.K. Morton (personal communication, 1976) has obtained an intermediate chromosome count of 2n = about 64 for one such specimen, which is interesting because (S. saginoides 2n = 22; S. nivalis 2n = 88). Hybrids have also been reported, quite frequently, from other regions (e.g., Norway), but never confirmed as such (Elven, personal communication, 2005).

Illustrations. • Habitat: Ogac Lake, lakeshore. Plants growing in moss beside the lakeshore. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. 13 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–092. CAN 586563. • Habitat: Rankin Inlet. Isolated plants growing in disturbed ground at the edge of a road. Nunavut, Rankin Inlet, near the graveyard, 62°48'N, 92°06'W. Aiken and Brysting 01–046. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Habitat: Dorset. Plants growing in relatively black mud of a runoff ditch. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Cape Dorset. August, 2005. No voucher. Scale bar in cm. • Close-up of plant. Plant with characteristic shaped arrangement of leaves in the centre. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–092. CAN 586563. • Close-up of plants in moss. Plants growing in moss beside the lakeshore. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. 13 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–092. CAN 586563. • Surface view of flower. Surface view of flower with 5 spatulate petals and sepals, 5 anthers alternate with the petals and 5 fluffly stigmas sessile on the gynoecium. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–092. CAN 586563. • Side view of flower. Side view of flower with spatulate green sepals, white petals longer than the sepals, and five stigmas sessile on the capsule. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–092. CAN 586563. • Close-up of plant. Plant beginning to set fruit with petals still on the flowers. Often numerous flowering stems, mostly one-flowered, radiating from a central rosette. Nunavut, Rankin Inlet, near the graveyard, 62°48'N, 92°06'W. Aiken and Brysting 01–046. CAN. • Close-up of plant. Plant in fruit, growing in disturbed ground at the edge of a road. Note the flowering stems radiating from the base of a central rosette. Nunavut, Rankin Inlet, near the graveyard, 62°48'N, 92°06'W. Aiken and Brysting 01–046. CAN. • Close-up of fruit. Ovoid capsule, slightly longer than the calyx, opening with 4 or 5 teeth. Nunavut, Rankin Inlet, near the graveyard, 62°48'N, 92°06'W. Aiken and Brysting 01–046. CAN. • Close-up of fruit. Ovoid capsules, slightly longer than the calyx, opening with 4 or 5 teeth. Nunavut, Rankin Inlet, near the graveyard, 62°48'N, 92°06'W. Aiken and Brysting 01–046. CAN. • Drawing of plant. Plant in late stages of fruiting. The flowering stems have withered and the fruits are lying on the ground. Drawing by Mrs. S. Bergh and Mrs. L. Barstad based on a collection from Svalbard, Andrée Land, Gråhuk. 11 Aug. 1925. F. Isachsen. O 208281. 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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