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 chordorrhiza Ehrh. ex L.f.

English: Creeping sedge,

French: Carex à longs rhizomes,

Inuktitut: Iviit, ivisuka, ivitsuskaka.

Cyperaceae, Sedge family.

Published in Suppl. Pl. 414. 1782.

Type: 77. Chordorrhiza. Carex chordorrhiza L. Upsaliae. Holotype: UPS.

Synonymy. Carex capitata L. f. arctogena (Harry Sm.) Raymond, Contr. Inst. Bot. Univ. Montreal no. 64: 38. 1949.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 7–20(–25) cm high (to 35 cm high on continental North America); perennial herbs; not caespitose. Only fibrous roots present. Roots pallid-brown. Ground level or underground stems horizontal; stoloniferous; elongate (to 1 m long). Ground level or underground stems scales present (sometimes leaf-like along the stolons). Aerial stems erect, or ascending (when young, becoming prostrate stolons at maturity, elongating to 120 cm); not filiform (0.8–1.5 mm in diameter). Leaves present; distributed along the stems; alternate; marcescent. Petioles absent. Sheaths present; persisting; not forming a conspicuous build-up at the base of the plant; green (fronts pale brown at the apex); sheath collars absent. Ligules present; 0.6–6.2 mm long; membranous. Leaves grass-like. Blades 20–100 mm long, 0.5–2.5(–3) mm wide, straight, linear, folded, veins parallel. Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins scabrous (scaberulous at the tip); apices acuminate.

Reproductive morphology. Plants monoecious. Flowering stems triangular in cross section (bluntly). Flowering stems about as high as the leaves, or conspicuously taller than the leaves; with leaves. Leaf or reduced bract subtending the base of the inflorescence present (easily overlooked); reduced, or scale-like; shorter than the apex of the inflorescence; 2–10 mm long; persistent (but withering early); with sheath shorter than the blade. Inflorescences spicate and a spike of spikes (superficially a single spike but with 3–8 spikes aggregated into an ovoid spike-like head); 0.8–1.2(–1.6) cm long; 2–8(–12) mm wide. Cladoprophylls absent. Inflorescence multispicate. Individual spike(s) erect (with 3–8 perigynia). Terminal spike staminate at the apex (staminate scales ovate, apex obtuse to acuminate). Floral scales shorter than the perigynium in fruit; orange-brown; with margins and sometimes midvein paler in colour than the adjacent area of the scale; not reflexed (spreading to 90° at maturity); lanceolate; 2.5–3.2(–3.5) mm long; 1.4–2 mm wide; glabrous. Flowers unisexual. Staminate flowers inconspicuous. Perianth represented by a perigynium. Stamens present (staminate flowers), or absent (pistillate flowers); 3. Anthers 2–2.5 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 3; syncarpous. Perigynia sessile (or with a very short stipe-like base). Styles 2; partially fused; slender, not extending beyond the beak. Stigmas per ovary 2. Placentation basal. Ovules per ovary 1. Fruit surrounded by a perigynium. Perigynia with a slit running down the beak on the abaxial side through which the style protrudes; broadly ovate; 2.8–3.2 mm long; 1.3–1.7(–2.2) mm wide; spreading at maturity; green (when young), or brown (when mature); membranous (relatively thick); surface glossy; glabrous; strongly veined (with 12–28 veins); apices beaked with a short beak; apex oblique, becoming slightly bidentate (erose). Fruit sessile; dry; an achene; indehiscent. Achenes lenticular (silvery brown); filling the perigynia. Seeds 1; brown (silvery).

Chromosome information. 2n = 60–70.

2n = 60–70.

2n = 60. Löve and Löve (1956, Iceland);

2n = about 60; Löve and Solbrig (1965a); Löve and Ritchie (1966, northern Canada);

2n = 62. Löve (1981d, central Canada);

2n = about 66. Knaben and Engelskjøn (1967, Norway);

2n = 70. Zhukova and Petrovsky (1976, western Chukotka); Zhukova et al. (1977, northeastern Asia).

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: around the margins of ponds, along streams, tundra, seashores (on beaches); aquatic, imperfectly drained moist areas; sand, silt; with low organic content, with high organic content. Occasional to rare in wet sedge marshy tundra (Porsild 1957), but sometimes a dominant species by pond margins, where it can be found with Hippurus vulgaris and Ranunculus pallasii. It can also act as a sand binder on beaches.

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited. Uncommon. Low Arctic. Arctic islands: Baffin (Iqaluit, Kimmirut), Victoria (Cambridge Bay and Tahoe Lake).

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

General notes. Polunin (1940) considered the characteristic habitat of this sedge to be the margins of freshwater pools in sheltered lowland areas where it creeps with conspicuous long stolons on the surface of the wet mud from which the frequent culms arise. Polunin had observed many of the stolons extending out into the water, sometimes for nearly a metre, but in such cases they were barren. Susan Aiken collected this species growing in a wetland area behind the Nunavut Research Institute (Iqaluit) in 1986 and on the beach near the graveyard in 1986 but was not able to find it in 1998, after the wetland area was partially drained and the beach worked with heavy machinery.

Illustrations. • Herbarium specimen showing rhizomes. Plants with conspicuously long rhizomes, sometimes as much as 1 metre long, and head-like multispicate inflorescences. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Kimmirut. 26–28 July, 1936. N. Polunin 1207. CAN 26825. • Close-up of inflorescence. Compact, head-like multispicate inflorescences with staminate flowers at the top of spikes. Note leaf on the flowering stem. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Kimmirut. CAN 26825. • Inflorescence as anthesis. Compact multispicate inflorescence with terminal and lateral spikes staminate at the apex, anthers yellowish, stigmas two, brown. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Kimmirut. 26–28 July, 1936. N. Polunin 1207. CAN 26825. • Close-up of inflorescence. Compact multispicate inflorescence of 3–8 spikes, staminate at the apex, lateral spikes with ovate floral scales, paler on the margins and in the centre. Stigmas 2. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Kimmirut. 26–28 July, 1936. N. Polunin 1207. CAN 26825. • 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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