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 glareosa Wahlenb.

English: Gravel sedge,

French: Carex des graviers,

Inuktitut: Iviit, ivisuka, ivitsuskaka.

Cyperaceae, Sedge family.

Published in Kongl. Vetensk. Acad. Nya Handl. 24: 146. 1803

Type: Norway: Finmarken på Langöen vid Kistrand, 02.07.1802, leg. Wahlenberg, selected by Egorova (1966). Moberg and Nilsson (1991: 290) seem to have re-selected the same type. Lectotype: UPS

Synonymy. Carex lachenalii Schk. var. glareosa (Wahlenb.) Gelting, Meddel. Grønland 101(2): 162. 1934.

Carex bipartita var. glareosa (Wahlenb.) Polunin, Bull. Natl. Mus. Canada 94 (Biol. Ser. 24): 114. 1940.

Carex marina auct. plur., non Dewey (1836).

Carex glareosa Wahlenb. var. amphigena Fernald, Rhodora 7: 47. 1906.

Carex glareosa Wahlenb. subsp. amphigena (Fernald) A. Löve, Taxon 19: 300. 1970.

Vegetative morphology. Plants (8–)12–30(–60) cm high (on continental North America); perennial herbs; caespitose (densely, in small clumps); in dense single compact tufts. Only fibrous roots present. Roots pallid-brown. Ground level or underground stems absent. Aerial stems decumbent (slender, flexuous); filiform (0.5–1 mm in diameter). Leaves mainly basal; alternate; marcescent. Petioles absent. Sheaths present; persisting; not forming a conspicuous build-up at the base of the plant; brown, or reddish orange (or straw-coloured, inner band thin and hyaline, concave at the summit); sheath collars absent. Ligules present; 2–8 mm long (as wide as long); membranous. Leaves grass-like. Blades 50–150 mm long, 0.5–2(–2.5) mm wide (usually gray-green), straight, linear, flat or strongly keeled or channelled (usually grey-green), veins parallel. Blade adaxial surface glabrous or scabrous (pale to mid-brown, inner band thin and hyaline, concave at summit). Blade abaxial surface glaucous (grey-green). Blade margins scabrous; apices acuminate.

Reproductive morphology. Plants monoecious. Flowering stems two or more per plant. Flowering stems triangular in cross section. Flowering stems conspicuously taller than the leaves; with leaves. Leaf or reduced bract subtending the base of the inflorescence present, or absent; reduced, or scale-like; shorter than the apex of the inflorescence (proximal lateral spikes pistillate, containing 5–10(-15) perigynia); 2.5–10 mm long; persistent; with sheath shorter than the blade. Inflorescences a spike of spikes (head-like); linear, or ovate; (0.8–)1–2(–2.3) cm long; 5–10(–20) mm wide (erect). Cladoprophylls absent. Inflorescence multispicate. Inflorescence 2–3(–4) spikes (close together, usually overlapping, brown). Individual spike(s) ascending, or divergent (containing 5–10(-15) perigynia). Terminal spike staminate at the base (club-shaped, or oblong). Floral scales shorter than the perigynium in fruit (usually); brown (pale to red-brown with yellow- centre), or white or translucent (hyaline margins); with margins and sometimes midvein paler in colour than the adjacent area of the scale; ovate; 2.3–2.7 mm long; 1.2–1.6 mm wide; glabrous. Flowers unisexual. Staminate flowers inconspicuous. Perianth represented by a perigynium. Stamens present (staminate flowers), or absent (pistillate flowers); 3. Anthers 1.8–2.2 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 3; syncarpous. Perigynia sessile (or almost sessile). 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 (to fusiform, widest near the middle); 2.3–3(–3.5) mm long; 1.2–1.6 mm wide; erect or ascending; straw-coloured (greyish, greenish or reddish brown); membranous; surface dull; glabrous; strongly veined, or faintly veined (with several veins); not keeled; apices beaked with a short beak. Fruit sessile; dry; an achene; indehiscent. Achenes lenticular (slightly, elliptic, mid-brown to red-brown, dull to slightly glossy); filling the perigynia. Seeds 1; about 1.5 mm long and 1–1.25 mm wide; brown (to red-brown, dull to slightly glossy).

Chromosome information. 2n = 62-66.

2n = 62-66.

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

2n = 64. Petrovsky and Zhukova (1981, Wrangel Island);

2n = 66. Johnson and Packer (1968, northwestern Alaska); Taylor and Mulligan (1968, western Canada); Zhukova and Petrovsky (1975, western Chukotka); Yurtsev and Zhukova (1978, eastern Chukotka); Zhukova and Petrovsky (1980, western Chukotka); Löve (1981d).

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: seashores (on flats just above the strand line), ridges (and rocky ledges near the sea); imperfectly drained moist areas; rocks, gravel, clay; halophytic. A seashore plant that forms dense, compact, flat tussocks on sand and clay beaches subject to spring-tide flooding. It is often the dominant species around the nesting grounds of sea birds. Typically situated between Puccinellia phryganodes meadows and the tundra by the sea around bays and lagoons.

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago moderate. Uncommon. Arctic. Arctic islands: Baffin, Devon, and Ellesmere (literature record), Victoria (literature record), Coats (Cairne Cove).

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, Yana–Kolyma, West Chukotka, Wrangel Island, South Chukotka, East Chukotka, West Alaska, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay, Ellesmere Land – Peary Land, West Greenland, East Greenland.

General notes. The taxon that occurs in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago is subsp. glareosa (Toivonen 2002). It has leaves 1–2 mm wide and pistillate scales 2–3 mm long. Subspecies pribylovensis that has leaves 1.5–2.5 mm wide and pistillate scales 2.7–3.5 mm long is known only from the Pribilof and Aleutian islands and is relatively rare.

Halliday and Chater (1969a) examined fruit shape in the circumpolar C. glareosa complex and concluded there is continuous variation between the long, fusiform fruits of C. glareosa and the broad fruits of plants which are referred either to C. marina or C. glareosa var. amphigena Fernald. They indicated that the species C. glareosa and C. lachenalii Schkuhr are fairly closely related. Carex lachenalii is a species of freshwater mires and snow patches, but in east Greenland it often occurs by the seashore where poorly developed individuals may very closely resemble C. glareosa. By contrast, C. glareosa is nearly always maritime growing in the Arctic with C. subspathacea, C. ursina, Puccinellia phryganodes, and Stellaria humifusa.

Halliday and Chater (1969a) gave the following characters for separating C. glareosa from C. lachenalii: Carex glareosa plants have leaves with stomata on both surfaces, whereas C. lachenalii plants have stomata on the lower surface only. In C. glareosa the lateral spikes are entirely pistillate, while those of C. lachenalii have staminate flowers at the base. The fruits of C. glareosa are seldom distinctly beaked, concolorus, and they may vary from brown to pale, whitish green. The fruits of C. lachenalii are distinctly beaked, dark brown, and often tinged with green. The leaves are inrolled and filiform in C. glareosa, almost flat in C. lachenalii. The culms are curved and deposit the fruits on the ground in C. glareosa, oblique and straight in C. lachenalii.

Porsild (1957) and Halliday and Chater (1969a) recognised the North American taxon as C. glareosa var. amphigena Fernald. In the Flora of North America treatment (Toivonen 2002), this variety is synonymised under C. glareosa subsp. glareosa but is discussed as a variety dominating in North America.

Porsild (1957) mapped records from Victoria and Ellesmere Islands, but these have not been confirmed.

Illustrations. • Habitat. Gray-green prostrate plants growing in a saline meadow. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Iqaluit. Aiken 97–035. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Habitat: Dorset. Plants near marker in saline meadow near the sea in the valley suburb of Cape Dorset. Nunavut, Baffin Island. 5 August, 2005. Aiken. No voucher. • Habitat. Plants are large, green clumps growing among the brownish green plants of Puccinellia phryganodes, both growing in a saline meadow. Nunavut, Southampton Island. Aiken and Brysting 01–083. CAN. • Close-up of plant. Green plants between the markers growing in a saline meadow with Puccinellia phryganodes. Long flowering stems are prostrate on the ground. Aiken and Brysting 01–083. CAN. • Close-up of plant. Green plants between the markers growing in a saline meadow with Puccinellia phryganodes. Long flowering stems are prostrate on the substrate. Aiken and Brysting 01–083. CAN. • Close-up of young inflorescence. Inflorescence with two spikes close together, the lower one pistillate, the terminal spike staminate at the base with anthers to the right. Floral scales brown to red-brown with yellow-brown centre and wide yellowish margins. Perigynia are longer than the floral scales when mature. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Inugsuin Fiord. CAN 301900. • 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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