Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago
English: Arctic cotton-grass,
French: Linaigrette à belle crinière,
Inuktitut: Suputaujaq (Nunavik),
Cyperaceae, Sedge family.
Published in Mém. Acad. Imp. Sci. St.-Pétersbroug Divers Savans 1: 203. 1831.
Vegetative morphology. Plants (8–)10–15(–20) cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose; loosely tufted in several tufts (forming small solitary tufts). Only fibrous roots present. Roots pallid-brown, or black. Ground level or underground stems absent. Aerial stems erect; not filiform (0.8–1.2 mm in diameter). Leaves mainly basal; alternate; dying annually and non-persistent and marcescent. Petioles absent. Sheaths present; persisting; forming a conspicuous build-up at the base of the plant; brown (pallid); with the margins fused to the apex; glabrous; sheath collars absent. Ligules present; 0.5–1 mm long; membranous; glabrous. Ligule apices obtuse; entire. Leaves grass-like. Blades 35–120 mm long, (0.4–)0.8–1.2 mm wide, appressed to the stem, straight, linear (filiform), flat, veins parallel, midvein similar in size to other veins in the leaf. Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins glabrous (minute trichomes along the margins); apices acuminate.
Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems solitary. Flowering stems circular or oval in cross section. Flowering stems conspicuously taller than the leaves; with leaves; uppermost leaf arising below the middle of the stem (with a short blade). Leaf or reduced bract subtending the base of the inflorescence absent. Flowers solitary (numerous flowers in a solitary inflorecence), or in inflorescences. Inflorescences spicate and head-like (a single spike); dense; globose or sub-globose (hemispherical); 1–2 cm long (in flower, 1.5–3 cm in fruit); 10–25 mm wide. Pedicels absent. Inflorescence unispicate. Individual spike(s) erect. Bisexual spike(s) with empty bracts at the base (0.9–1.2 cm long with a short blade on the distal leaf). Terminal spike with both sexes in each floret. Floral scales brown, or black (margins and tip hyaline, ovate-lanceolate, thin, empty scales mostly 10–15 appressed to ascending, ovate, 5–8 mm, midrib not reaching the tip, apex acute); with margins the same colour as the body of the scale, or with margins paler than body of the scale (narrowly so, not easily seen from above the plant); not reflexed (distinguishing this taxon from E. vaginatum s.l.); ovate, or lanceolate; 5–10 mm long; 2.5–5 mm wide; glabrous; apex acute. Perianth represented by bristles (the "cotton" of cotton grasses) (long). Perianth bristles silky white, or translucent (to sometimes with a copper tinge). Sepals modified (but not a pappus). Stamens 3. Anthers splitting longitudinally. Anthers 0.5–0.9(–1.2) mm long. Ovary carpels 3; syncarpous. Styles 3. Stigmas per ovary 3. Placentation basal. Ovules per ovary 1. Fruit sessile; surrounded by a perianth persisting as bristles; dry; an achene; ellipsoid, or elongate-cylindrical; brown; (1.8–)1.9–2.2 mm long; 0.9–1.1 mm wide; indehiscent. Achenes trigonous. Seeds 1.
Chromosome information. 2n = 60.
2n = 60. Jørgensen et al. (1958, Greenland); Hedberg (1967, northern Canada, 2n = about 56); Zhukova (1968, northeastern Asia; 1980, southern Chukotka); Zhukova et al. (1973, northeastern Asia); Löve (1981d, northern Canada).
Ecology and habitat. Substrates: wet meadows, hummocks, around the margins of ponds, river terraces, tundra; imperfectly drained moist areas, seepage slopes (occasionally), dry (rarely); silt, till; with high organic content; calcareous. This species can form dense stands. In wet meadows and tundra, it is typically found with Carex aquatilis var. minor and Salix in areas grazed by muskoxen. In wet mucky areas, it is found with E. angustifolium; in drier areas, with Dryas.
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. Common. Low Arctic. Arctic islands: Baffin, Devon, Banks, Victoria, Somerset, and Southampton.
Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar, or circumboreal (with gap in N Europe). Polar Ural Novaya Zemlya, YamalGydan, Taimyr Severnaya Zemlya, AnabarOlenyok, Kharaulakh, YanaKolyma, West Chukotka, Wrangel Island, South Chukotka, East Chukotka, West Alaska, North Alaska Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador Hudson Bay, Ellesmere Land Peary Land, East Greenland.
Illustrations. • Habitat: Banks Island. Small plants growing in moss. N.W.T., Banks Island, Aulavik National Park, beside Thomsen River. 1 July, 1999. Aiken 99–047. CAN. • Habitat: Baffin Island. Single spikes of cotton grass growing in dense sedge meadow just back from a road. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Iqaluit. 5 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–007. CAN 586489. • Close-up of plants: Baffin Island. Note plant growing in a tuft and spikes higher than wide. This plant was growing adjacent to Eriophorum scheuchzeri collection 04–008. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Iqaluit. 5 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–007. CAN 586489. • Close-up of inflorescence. Close-up of unispicate inflorescence that has flowered and is developing a "cotton" of perianth bristles. Note very black floral scales. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Iqaluit. 5 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–007. CAN 586489. • Close-up of inflorescence. Inflorescence has 10–15 blackish brown scales with hyaline tips. Anthers 0.6–1.2 mm long. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Iqaluit. CAN 549915. • Close-up of achenes. Detached achenes ellipsoid-obovoid, 1.8–2.1 mm long. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Pangnirtung. CAN 392215. • Proximal inflorescence scales. Inflorescence that has shed almost all fruit. Proximal scales 10–15, blackish brown with hyaline tips. Nunavut, Southampton Island. CAN 28091. • 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..