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

Stellaria crassifolia Ehrh.

English: Thick-leaved starwort, fleshy starwort,

French: Stellaire à feullies charnues.

Caryophyllaceae, Pink family.

Published in Hannov. Mag. 8tes St. 116; et ex J. F. Gmel. Syst. 718. 1784.

Type: Described from Germany.

Vegetative morphology. Plants (0.5–)1–10(–15) cm high; perennial herbs. Only fibrous roots present. Ground level or underground stems horizontal; stoloniferous; elongate; 0.3–0.5 mm wide. Caudex absent. Aerial stems prostrate (usually), or ascending, or erect; not filiform. Leaves present; distributed along the stems; opposite; marcescent. Petioles absent. Leaf blade bases attenuate. Blades 1–3(–8) mm long, 0.5–2(–3.5) mm wide, spreading, lanceolate (narrowly or broadly), flat, appearing single-veined or with inconspicuous veins. Blade adaxial surface dull, glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins glabrous; apices acute.

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems with leaves. Flowers solitary (usually), or in inflorescences. Inflorescences with flowers in a dichasium; terminal, or lateral. Flowers per inflorescence 1–3(–5); small. Sepals conventional; 5; free; 2–4 mm wide; green; herbaceous and scarious (on the margins). Calyx glabrous. Petals conventional; free; longer than the calyx; 5; white; obovate; deeply cleft (almost to the base); 2.5–5 mm long. Stamens 10; stamen filaments glabrous. Anthers yellow; ellipsoid; 0.1–0.3 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 3; syncarpous. Ovaries ovate; glabrous. Styles 3; free; 1–1.5 mm long. Stigmas per ovary 1. Placentation free central. Ovules per ovary 10–15. Fruit with calyx persisting; dry; a capsule; ovoid; straw-coloured; 3–5 mm long; 1.2–1.5 mm wide; surface appearing veinless; dehiscent; opening with teeth at the top of the capsule; teeth 6. Seeds few to several; 0.5–1 mm long; brown; surfaces rugose.

Chromosome information. 2n = 26.

2n (2x) = 26. Peterson (1935, 1936, Sweden); Knaben (1950, Norway); Löve and Löve (1956, Iceland; 1982, Arctic Canada); Zhukova et al. (1973, northern and northeastern Asia). Zhukova and Petrovsky (1976, western Chukotka). A few more southern counts.

Ploidy levels recorded 2x.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: wet meadows; imperfectly drained moist areas; silt, moss; with high organic content; calcareous. Occasional in wet meadows, where it often forms mats around the bases of tall grasses and sedges (Porsild and Cody 1980).

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. Uncommon. Low Arctic. Arctic islands: Baffin, Victoria, Southampton (Prince Charles Island).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar, or circumboreal (except Greenland). Northern Iceland, Northern Fennoscandian, Kanin–Pechora, Polar Ural – Novaya Zemlya, Yamal–Gydan, Taimyr – Severnaya Zemlya, Anabar–Olenyok, Kharaulakh, West Chukotka, South Chukotka, East Chukotka, West Alaska, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay.

General notes. Stellaria crassifolia is often confused with S. humifusa, but it is a much more slender and delicate species with long pedicels sharply angled below the capsule. Leaf shape and size varies considerably, tending to be smaller and broader in exposed habitats. (Morton 2005).

Near its northern limit, S. crassifolia does not normally produce viable seeds, depending entirely on vegetative reproduction by the formation of terminal, as well as axillary, wintering buds that develop at the tip of aerial stems or branches, and also at the tip of filiform and very fragile runners issuing from the lower leaf-axils, or from the subaerial stems (Kotilainen 1946, Porsild and Cody 1980).

Illustrations. • Close-up of plant. Matted plant growing in wet meadow together with grasses and sedges. N.W.T., Tuktoyaktuk, near Pingo Park Lodge, 6926'N, 13301'W. Aiken and Brysting 01–116. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Close-up of stems and leaves. Stems prostrate, glabrous and narrow with opposite leaves that are thin and delicate, 1–3(-8) mm long, and narrowly to broadly lanceolate. N.W.T., Tuktoyaktuk, near Pingo Park Lodge. Aiken and Brysting 01–116. CAN. • Close-up of plant. Flowering plant, delicate and glabrous in all parts with freely branching and densely matted, slender stems. N.W.T., Tuktoyaktuk, near Pingo Park Lodge, 6926'N, 13301'W. Aiken and Brysting 01–116. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Close-up of flower. Deeply cleft petals that are longer than the calyx with 10 stamens and 3 styles. Note anthers opposite the petals are already dehisced, and the second row of anthers above the petals have not yet dehisced. N.W.T., Tuktoyaktuk, near Pingo Park Lodge, 6926'N, 13301'W. Aiken and Brysting 01–116. 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.

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