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 glacialis Mackenzie

English: Glacial sedge,

French: Carex des glaces,

Inuktitut: Iviit, ivisuka, ivitsuskaka.

Cyperaceae, Sedge family.

Published in Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 37: 244. 1910.

Type: Described from northern Sweden, type of C. pedata Wahlenb. (1812), non L. (1763). Holotype: UPS.

Vegetative morphology. Plants (3.5–)5–15(–30) cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose; in dense single compact tufts. Only fibrous roots present. Roots pallid-brown. Ground level or underground stems absent. Aerial stems erect (sub-erect). Leaves mainly basal; alternate; marcescent (dead leaf remains often curled). Petioles absent. Sheaths present; persisting; not forming a conspicuous build-up at the base of the plant; brown, or reddish orange; sheath collars absent. Ligules present; membranous. Leaves grass-like. Blades (20–)40–100 mm long, 0.5–1 mm wide, straight (when fresh) or somewhat curled (older leaves), linear, flat or folded or channelled (strongly keeled), veins parallel. Blade adaxial surface glabrous or scabrous (towards the tip). Blade margins scabrous; apices acuminate.

Reproductive morphology. Plants monoecious. Flowering stems two or more per plant. Flowering stems circular or oval in cross section. 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; reduced, or scale-like; shorter than the apex of the inflorescence; 1–10 mm long; persistent; with sheath shorter than the blade, or sheathless. Inflorescences a spike of spikes; oblong, or lanceolate; 0.6–1.5 cm long; 1.5–4 mm wide. Cladoprophylls present. Inflorescence multispicate. Inflorescence 3–4 spikes. Individual spike(s) erect (with few flowers; all spikes unisexual, lateral spikes 2–9 mm long × 1–3 mm wide). Terminal spike completely staminate (2–8 mm long, 0.7–2 mm wide; Staminate scales reddish, black or dark brown, apex obtuse to sub-acute). Floral scales shorter than the perigynium in fruit, or as long as the perigynium in fruit; brown (reddish black); with margins and sometimes midvein paler in colour than the adjacent area of the scale; ovate (to sub-circular); 1.5–2 mm long; 2–2.4 mm wide; glabrous; apex obtuse (broadly ovate). Flowers unisexual. Staminate flowers conspicuous. Perianth represented by a perigynium. Sepals modified (but not a pappus). Petals modified as bristles or perigynia. Stamens present (staminate flowers), or absent (pistillate flowers); 3. Anthers 1.3–1.5 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 3; syncarpous. Perigynia sessile. Styles 3; partially fused; slender, extending beyond the beak. 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; broadly ovate; 1.5–2.5 mm long; 0.9–1.2 mm wide; erect or ascending; black (reddish), or brown (at the base), or green; membranous; surface dull; glabrous (scabrous toward the apex); appearing veinless; with 2 keels (that are not prominent); apices beaked with a short beak. Fruit sessile; dry; an achene; obovate; indehiscent. Achenes lenticular; filling the perigynia. Seeds 1; about 1.75 mm long × 0.8 mm wide.

Chromosome information. 2n = 34 (36).

2n = 34-36.

2n = 34. Knaben (1950, southern Norway, 1968, Alaska); Löve (1954b); Löve and Löve (1956, Iceland); Löve (1981d, central Canada); Jørgensen et al. (1958, Greenland); Knaben and Engelskjøn (1967, northern Norway); Zhukova and Tikhonova (1971, Chukotka); Krogulevich (1971, Siberia); Yurtsev and Zhukova (1978, eastern Chukotka);

2n = 36. Zhukova and Petrovsky (1980).

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: slopes, ridges, cliffs (on ledges); dry; rocks, gravel, sand (also sandy and or gravelly places on dry slopes, cliff pockets and ridges); with low organic content; calcareous. This can be the dominant species on dry gravel ridges and is typically found in cliff pockets with Carex nardina, or in sandy cracks in bedrock.

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago widespread. Uncommon. Arctic, alpine. Arctic islands: Baffin, Ellesmere, Axel Heiberg, Victoria, Southampton, and Coats.

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

General notes. Polunin (1940, p. 120) noted that this is "yet another little sedge that has been in the past, and probably is to this day, repeatedly missed".

In the Flora of North America treatment (Ball and Murray 2002), this species and C. supina are placed in sect. Lamprochlaenae, but circumscription of this section has varied. Ball and Murray (2002) noted that Mackenzie (1931–1935, pp. 182) placed C. glacialis and C. supina in sect. Petraeae (sect. Rupestres) although no other author has associated these species with unispicate species. The circumscription in Flora of North America followed that proposed by Egorova (1999).

Illustrations. • Close-up of plant. Note short, often slightly curved leaves. Norway, Troms, Målselv, Gråhøgda Mountain. 29 June, 1977. Photograph by R. Elven. • Herbarium specimen. Densely tufted sedge usually less than 15 cm high. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Kimmirut. 22 July, 1933. M.O. Malte. CAN 21538. • Mature inflorescences. Late season inflorescences of few-flowered spikes. Note remains of completely staminate terminal spike. Pistillate flowers have perigynia longer than the scales; many of the perigynia have been shed. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Kimmirut. 22 July, 1933. M.O. Malte. CAN 21538. • 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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