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

Carex capillaris L. subsp. fuscidula (Krecz. ex T.V. Egorova) Á. Löve and D. Löve

English: Hair sedge,

French: Carex capillaire,

Inuktitut: Iviit, ivisuka, ivitsuskaka.

Cyperaceae, Sedge family.

Published in Bot. Not. 128: 504.1976.

Type: Russian Far East: Lower Penshina, 16.07.1932, leg. B.N. Gorodkov and B.A. Tikhomirov. Holotype: LE.

Synonymy. Carex fuscidula Krecz. ex T.V. Egorova, Novosti Sist. Vyssh. Rast. 1964: 36. 1964.

Carex capillaris auct. fl. Amer. Arct., p.p. non L.

Carex capillaris Leers f. minima (Beck) Kuck. In Engler, Das Pflanzenreich, 38:(IV,20): 509. 1909.

Carex capillaris Leers var. minima Beck, Fl. Nieder-Osterreich 144. 1890

Carex capillaris Leers var. porsildiana Polunin, MS (Meddel. Grønl. 1941.)

Vegetative morphology. Plants (2–)5–15(–25) cm high (to 60 cm high in subsp. capillaris on continental North America); perennial herbs; caespitose; loosely tufted in several tufts. Only fibrous roots present. Roots pallid-brown. Ground level or underground stems absent. Aerial stems erect (nodding); filiform (0.3–0.5 mm in diameter). Leaves mainly basal (yellow-green); alternate; marcescent. Petioles absent. Sheaths present; persisting; forming a conspicuous build-up at the base of the plant, or not forming a conspicuous build-up at the base of the plant (older plants); brown (greyish); sheath collars absent. Ligules present; 0.1–0.2 mm long; membranous; transversely oblong. Ligule apices truncate. Leaves grass-like. Blades 30–80 mm long, (0.5–)1–1.5(–2) mm wide, straight, linear, flat or folded or channelled (in small plants), veins parallel. Blade adaxial surface glabrous (or minutely scaberulous). Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins scabrous (scaberulous towards the tip); apices acuminate.

Reproductive morphology. Plants monoecious. Flowering stems two or more per plant. Flowering stems circular or oval in cross section. Flowering stems conspicuously taller than the leaves; with leaves. Leaf or reduced bract subtending the base of the inflorescence present; conspicuous and leaf-like; shorter than the apex of the inflorescence; (10–)15–40 mm long; persistent; with sheath shorter than the blade (usually enclosing the pedicels). Inflorescences a raceme of spikes; 1–3(–4) cm long; 10–20 mm wide. Pedicels glabrous. Cladoprophylls present. Inflorescence multispicate. Inflorescence 3–5 spikes. Individual spike(s) erect (initially and tending to remain so in depauperate plants), or pendent (the lowermost often remote and concealed among the leaves, pistillate spikes with 6–20 flowers, 5–20 mm long × 3–4 mm wide). Terminal spike completely staminate (4–10 × 1.2–1.4 mm; cf. Carex krausei that has a bisexual terminal spike). Floral scales shorter than the perigynium in fruit, or as long as the perigynium in fruit; orange-brown; with margins and sometimes midvein paler in colour than the adjacent area of the scale (margins only, not the midvein usually); obovate; 1.9–2.1 mm long; 1–1.2(–1.5) mm wide; glabrous; apex rounded, or acute (almost mucronate in the centre). Flowers unisexual. Staminate flowers conspicuous (on a short-stalked spike, at or below the level of the female spikes, cf. subsp. capillaris where the terminal spike emerges above the female spikes). Perianth represented by a perigynium. Stamens present (staminate flowers), or absent (pistillate flowers); 3. Anthers 1–1.2 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 3; syncarpous. Perigynia sessile. Styles 3; partially fused; slender, not extending beyond the beak (or only very slightly). Stigmas per ovary 3. Placentation basal. Ovules per ovary 1. Fruit surrounded by a perigynium. Perigynia fused to the apex except for a small aperture through which the style protrudes; obovate; 2.5–3 mm long; 0.9–1.1 mm wide; erect or ascending, or spreading at maturity; golden brown; membranous; surface glossy (slightly); glabrous (scabrous near apex); faintly veined (with 2 marginal nerves), or appearing veinless (elsewhere); not keeled; apices beaked with a long beak (0.5–1 mm long); apex not bidentate or oblique. Fruit sessile; dry; an achene; obovate; indehiscent. Achenes lenticular; filling the perigynia. Seeds 1; 1.2–1.7 mm long (0.7–1mm wide, achenes).

Chromosome information. 2n = 48 to 54.

2n = 48 to 54. Löve et al. (1957); Jørgensen et al. (1958, Greenland, 2n = about 54, 'capillaris'); Löve and Löve (1966, northeastern USA); Löve (1981d, central Canada); Hedberg (1967, northern Canada, 2n = about 50, 'capillaris'); Johnson and Packer (1968, northwestern Alaska 'capillaris'); Zhukova (1969, northeastern Asia, 'capillaris'); Yurtsev and Zhukova (1978, eastern Chukotka; 1982, northern Siberia, 2n = 48); Zhukova (1980, southern Chukotka); Zhukova and Petrovsky (1975, western Chukotka, 'capillaris'; 1980 western Chukotka, 'capillaris' and 'fuscidula'); Dalgaard (1989, western Greenland).

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: tundra, dry meadows (and damp meadows); dry (more commonly), imperfectly drained moist areas; gravel, sand; with low organic content; calcareous. Found in drier habitats typically with Dryas integrifolia, Chamerion (Epilobium) latifolium, and Oxytropis maydelliana.

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, Ellesmere, Victoria, Southampton, Coats.

Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar. Northern Iceland, Kanin–Pechora, Svalbard – Franz Joseph Land, 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, Ellesmere Land – Peary Land, West Greenland, East Greenland.

General notes. Porsild (1957) noted that C. capillaris s.l. is a very variable species and distinguished between var. capillaris s.s. and var. major both in the Arctic Archipelago. He dismissed var. elongata as not occurring in the area. Carex capillaris var. major appears to be just a larger form from more sheltered locations and probably has no genetic basis (P. Ball, personal communication, 1998). The Flora of North America treatment (Ball, 2002, p. 476) indicates that C. capillaris ‘is somewhat variable and is often divided into two infraspecific taxa. Plants from the south are larger, have pale brown pistillate scales, and serrulate perigynium beaks. Northern plants are smaller, have medium brown pistillate scales, and smooth perigynium beaks. These characteristics are only weakly correlated making it difficult to assign individuals to these taxa except in a very arbitrary manner."

We recognise the plants in the flora region as C. capillaris subsp. fuscidula as the taxon is currently treated in the Panarctic Flora checklist (Elven et al. 2003). Carex capillaris subsp. capillaris of boreal and temperate European and Russia is characterised by having a long-stalked apical male spike, usually emerging above the female spikes, and pale brown perigynia. The northern arctic plants are all characterised by having a short-stalked apical male spike, situated level with, or below, the female spikes, and chestnut brown perigynia, making the female spikes much darker than in subsp. capillaris. The name subsp. fuscidula belongs to this entity. It is circumpolar and is the one currently documented from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago area. Boreal to southern arctic plants in Southern Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and probably eastern Asia are more difficult to separate from European subsp. capillaris but have been named as subsp. chlorostachys. A renewed analysis on a worldwide base is urgently needed.

Although the C. capillaris aggregate includes C. krausei (Elven et al. 2003), these authors report that specimens from North Greenland and Arctic Canada that they have examined separate fairly cleanly into C. fuscidula and C. krausei, both of which are described in this Flora.

Illustrations. • Close-up of plant. Plant cespitose with filiform curving culms conspicuously taller than the leaves. The leaf-like bract associated with the base of the multispicate inflorescence is shorter than the inflorescence. Terminal spike wholly staminate (c.f. Carex krausei that has a bisexual terminal spike), but is overtopped by lateral pistillate spikes (c.f. subsp. capillaris where the staminate spike overtops the pistillate spikes). Nunavut, Victoria Island, Cambridge Bay. CAN 273516. • Close-up of inflorescence. Staminate spike below the level of the pistillate spikes (c.f. subsp. capillaris where the staminate spike is above the pistillate spikes, and Carex krausei where the terminal spike is bisexual). Note the obovate perigynia that are golden brown and slightly glossy with long beaks (0.5–1 mm long). Nunavut, Victoria Island, Cambridge Bay. CAN 273516. • Close-up of perigynia. Close-up of perigynia 3.5 mm long with short stipes, gradually tapering long beaks, and three stigmas. Nunavut, Axel Heiberg Island, Expedition Fiord. CAN 295446. • 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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