Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago
English: Bellard's kobresia,
French: Kobrésie fausse-queue-de-souris,
Inuktitut: Iviit, ivisuka, ivitsuskaka.
Cyperaceae, Sedge family.
Published in In Fiori and Paol., Fl. Italiana 1: 125. 1896.
Type: Described from France: southwestern Alps.
Synonymy. Carex myosuroides Vill., Prosp. Hist. Pl. Dauphin‚ 17. 1779.
Carex bellardii All., Fl. Pedem. 2. 264. 1785.
Kobresia bellardii (All.) Degl. ex Loisel., Fl. Gall. 2: 626. 1807.
Vegetative morphology. Plants (5–)10–20(–35) cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose; in dense single compact tufts. Only fibrous roots present. Roots pallid-brown, or black. Ground level or underground stems absent. Aerial stems erect; filiform (wiry, 0.4–0.6 mm in diameter). Leaves mainly basal; alternate; dying annually and non-persistent, or marcescent (sheaths). Petioles absent. Sheaths present; persisting; forming a conspicuous build-up at the base of the plant (similar to Carex nardina); greyish brown, or reddish orange (pale orange, somewhat glossy, bladeless); sheath collars absent. Ligules present; 0.1–0.2 mm long. Leaves grass-like. Blades 20–150(–200) mm long, 0.2–0.7 mm wide (filiform). Leaves filiform. Blades straight, linear, circular in cross section or channelled (without a pronounced midrib), veins parallel, midvein similar in size to other veins in the leaf. Blade adaxial surface glabrous (sometimes scabrous along the margins, or even with sparse cilia that are not much shorter than those in Carex nardina). Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins scabrous (scaberulous or not seen on involute margins); 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 slightly taller); with leaves, or without leaves. Leaf or reduced bract subtending the base of the inflorescence absent. Inflorescences spicate; linear; 1–3 cm long; 2–4(–5) mm wide. Inflorescence unispicate. Inflorescence 10–12 spikes (tiny spike-like panicles "spikelets"; with one male flower above and one female flower below, but in appearance a single spike). Individual spike(s) erect. Terminal spike staminate at the apex (lateral "spikelets" have male flowers above and female flowers below). Floral scales orange-brown; with margins and sometimes midvein paler in colour than the adjacent area of the scale (midvein distinct almost to the tip); lanceolate; 2–3.5(–4.5) mm long; 1.5–2 mm wide; glabrous (apex obtuse or cuspidate); apex acute. Staminate flowers inconspicuous (each subtended by a staminate scale). Perianth represented by a perigynium. Sepals modified (but not a pappus). Stamens 3. Anthers 1.5–2 mm long. Ovary carpels 3; syncarpous. Perigynia sessile. Styles 3; long and thick (black, and longer than the floral scales). Stigmas per ovary 3. Placentation basal. Ovules per ovary 1. Fruit surrounded by a perigynium. Perigynia open on one side; broadly ovate; 2–3.5 mm long; 1–1.2 mm wide; erect or ascending; brown; membranous; surface dull; glabrous; appearing veinless; apices without a beak; apex not bidentate or oblique. Fruit sessile; dry; an achene (elliptical); obovate; golden brown; 2–2.8 mm long; 0.8–1 mm wide; indehiscent. Achenes trigonous (sometimes becoming black balls with fungus infection); not filling the upper part of the perigynia. Seeds 1.
Chromosome information. 2n = 52-58-66.
2n = 52-58-66.
2n = 52. Böcher (1938a, 1938c, Greenland);
2n = 52–56. Löve and Löve (1958, Greenland);
2n = 52–59. Heilborn (1939);
2n = 56. Hoshino et al. (1993a China);
2n = 58. Johnson and Packer (1968, northwestern Alaska); Engelskjøn and Knaben (1971, southern and northern Norway); Zhukova and Petrovsky (1976, western Chukotka); Löve (1981d, northern Canada); Zhukova (1982, northeastern Asia); Stoeva and Popova (1988, southeastern Europe);
2n = 60. Löve and Löve (1956, Iceland);
2n = 60–66. Holmen (1952, Greenland).
A chromosome report of 2n = about 36 from southern Siberia (Krogulevich 1971) is omitted until a voucher can be studied. Otherwise this is a nearly perfect example of the approach of the Löves and many other counters of chromosomes. Before 1968, several different and 'diffuse' chromosome numbers are reported, but never exactly 2n = 58. From Johnson and Packer (1968) and onwards, every chromosome counter has found 2n = 58 as the exact number, with the exception of some Japanese who did not know what they were expected to find. And Löve and Löve (1975) have only listed the exact 2n = 58 counts and omitted all the others, including every single count from Greenland and their own previous count from Iceland. There is really no convincing evidence that there is one, and only one, chromosome number in this species, just some indications that there is a predominant one (Elven et al. 2003).
Ecology and habitat. Substrates: hummocks; imperfectly drained moist areas (rarely), solifluction slopes, dry (usually); rocks, gravel, sand, clay; with low organic content, with high organic content (less commonly); calcareous. Typically found in dry, sparsely vegetated places, often on exposed slopes with Saxifraga, Dryas, or Salix. Occasionally reported in moister areas in wet swales near beaches.
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. Common. Arctic. Arctic islands: Baffin and Devon (voucher HbO), Ellesmere, Axel Heiberg, and Parry islands (Melville), Banks, Victoria, Somerset, and Southampton.
Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar, or circumboreal (arctic-alpine). Northern Iceland, Northern Fennoscandian, Polar Ural Novaya Zemlya, 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, West Greenland, East Greenland.
General notes. In the vegetative state, this species can be a challenge to distinguishe from Carex nardina. Polunin (1940) noted that except for local variations in luxuriance, this plant appears to be much the same in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. He predicted that in time it may be found on most ice-free land, although it had not been recorded from several considerable areas. He also observed that it is "remarkably overlooked" and for this reason possibly under-collected.
Kobresia myosuroides is reported to proliferate in "single passage" vehicle tracks through High Arctic tundra (Kevan et al. 1995). Near Lake Hazen, Ellesmere Island, vehicle tracks tend to be depleted of nutrients and generally low in vegetative cover .
The roots of K. myosuroides have been shown to have the ability to absorb free amino acids as well as inorganic nitrogen (Raab et al. 1996). Such an adaptation is highly advantageous in the Arctic where inorganic nitrogen is often limiting.
Illustrations. • Habitat. Grass-like plants growing on a dry exposed hillside near the marker and behind a yellow oxytrope. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Iqaluit. 20 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–102a. CAN 586575. • Contrasting with Carex nardina. Left, Carex nardina (Aiken 05–078) with sub-globose inflorescence. Right, Kobresia myosuroides (Aiken 05–079) with linear inflorescences. The cespitose base and narrow leaves of both species make them difficult to separate when vegetative only. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Iqaluit. August, 2005. Photograph by Kathy Thornhill. CAN 586950. • Herbarium specimens. Tussock sedge with a palisade build-up of dead sheaths, filiform leaves and elongate, spicate, single inflorescences. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Head of Clyde Inlet. 2 July, 1950. Wynne-Edwards 8908-A. CAN 204831. • Inflorescence at anthesis. Spicate inflorecence at anthesis. It is composed of 10–12 tiny spike-like panicles "spikelets". Each spikelet has one male flower above and one female flower below, but in appearance a single spike. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Head of Clyde Inlet. 2 July, 1950. Wynne-Edwards 8908-A. CAN 204831. • Inflorescence maturing from top downwards. Inflorescence maturing from the top downwards. Note mature achene at the top and florets at anthesis in the middle. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Arctic Bay. 12 August, 1927. M.O. Malte 118665. CAN 28692. • Post-anthesis spikes. Right, two post anthesis spicate inflorescences. Left, spicate inflorescence at anthesis. It is composed of 9–12 tiny spike-like panicles "spikelets". Nunavut, Baffin Island, Arctic Bay. 12 August, 1927. M.O. Malte 118665. CAN 28692. • Inflorescence in fruit. Spicate inflorescence maturing from the top down. Uppermost tiny panicles contain triogonous naked achenes surrounded with scales from the open perigynia and the male florets. The least mature achene still has a long style that branches into three stigmas characteristic of the genus. Other styles have lost a stigmatic branch. Nunavut, Elllesmere Island, Hot Weather Creek. S.A. Edlund and C. Roncato-Spences 230. CAN 533249. • 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..