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

Arctous (A. Gray) Nied.

English: Bear berry.

Ericaceae, Bilberry family.

Published in Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 11: 80. 1889.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 10–25(–45) cm high; shrubs; low shrubs. Aerial stems ascending, or decumbent. Aerial stem trichomes appressed, or spreading. Leaves distributed along the stems; alternate; dying annually and non-persistent (A. rubra), or dying annually and non-persistent and marcescent (A. alpina). Petioles 1–5 mm long; winged; glabrous, or hairy. Leaf blade bases attenuate. Blades (4–)10–30(–55) mm long, 2.5–20(–30) mm wide, spreading, ovate or oblanceolate or obovate, flat, veins pinnate and veins reticulate. Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins crenate, glabrous or with non-glandular hairs, with teeth toward the apex; apices acute, or obtuse, or rounded.

Reproductive morphology. Flowers solitary, or in inflorescences. Inflorescences fasciculate; lateral. Bract leaves 1–6 mm long. Flowers small. Sepals conventional; 5; fused; 0.8–1.8 mm wide; green, or purplish red. Calyx rotate; unlobed; glabrous. Petals conventional; fused; 5; green, or yellow, or red; 3.5–4.5 mm long. Stamens 10. Anthers opening with a terminal pore. Anthers 0.6–0.8 mm long. Nectaries present. Ovary superior; carpels 5; syncarpous. Ovaries sub-globose; glabrous. Styles 1. Placentation axile. Fruit sessile, or stalked; stalk 0.1–0.6 mm long; with calyx persisting; fleshy; a berry (superficially in appearance), or a drupe (technically); black, or red; 6–12 mm long; 6–12 mm wide; surface appearing veinless; indehiscent. Seeds 2–5; 3–3.5 mm long; surfaces smooth.

General notes. The genus Arctous contrasts with Arctostaphylos in having leaves with winged petioles and crenate margins; no awns or horns, merely stubs on the anthers (horns or awns are present on the anthers of members of Arctostaphylos). Arctous has normal flowering buds that develop in the spring (as opposed to Arctostaphylos in which nascent buds form in the summer and fall and lie dormant during the winter); fruit that are bright red or black and juicy (in Arctostaphylos the fruit is mealy or granular); and only 5 nutlets with a hard smooth endocarp (in contrast to Arctostaphylos where the fruits have 10 sculptured nutlets).


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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