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

Gentianella propinqua (Richardson) J.M. Gillett

English: Four-parted gentian; small flowered gentian,

French: Gentiane fausse-amarelle,

Inuktitut: Itsutiit.

Gentianaceae, Gentian family.

Published in Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 44: 236. 1957.

Synonymy. Gentiana propinqua Richardson, in Franklin, Narr. Journey Polar Sea (Bot. App.) 734. 1823.

Arctogentiana propinqua (Richardson) Á. Löve and D. Löve, Taxon 31: 352. 1982.

Gentiana arctophila Griesb., Gen. Sp. Gent. 251. 1839.

Gentiana propinqua Richardson subsp. arctophila (Griseb.) Hultén, Ark. Bot., n. s., 7, 1: 108. 1968a.

For further synonymy see Gillett (1957).

Vegetative morphology. Plants 2–10(–15) cm high; annual herbs, or biennial herbs. Taproot present. Roots yellow, or pallid-brown. Ground level or underground stems absent. Aerial stems erect, or ascending (lateral branches). Leaves distributed along the stems and basal in a rosette; opposite; dying annually and non-persistent. Petioles absent. Leaf blade bases truncate. Leaves not grass-like. Blades 4–15(–35) mm long, 1–6(–10) mm wide, spreading, elliptic or spatulate, flat, with inconspicuous veins or veins reticulate. Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins entire; apices acute, or obtuse.

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems conspicuously taller than the leaves; with leaves. Flowers in inflorescences (with few flowers, rarely only one). Inflorescences cymose (if applicable, the central flower largest). Flowers medium-sized, or large. Sepals conventional; 4; fused (at the base); 5–10(–12) mm wide (the tube 2–3 mm long); blue, or pink. Calyx tubular (the tube 2–3 mm long); 4-lobed (the lobes well developed); glabrous. Petals conventional; fused; 4; blue (pale), or white; 15–25 mm long; not spurred. Corolla tubular (at the base, unfringed at the base of the petal lobes); 4-lobed (the lobes triangular-ovate, each ending in a point). Stamens 4; stamen filaments glabrous (between the stamens are glands that appear as a pale green patch); fused to the corolla (at or below the middle). Anthers purple (blue); 0.4–0.6 mm long. Nectaries present (at the base of the ovary). Ovary superior; carpels 2; syncarpous. Stipes 0.4–0.6 mm long. Ovaries inverse club-shaped; glabrous. Placentation parietal. Ovules per ovary 40–60. Fruit with calyx persisting; dry; a capsule (longer than the marcescent calyx); elongate-cylindrical; yellowish, or brown; 10–20(–25) mm long; 2.5–4 mm wide; glabrous; dehiscent. Seeds 0.5–1 mm long (ovoid, slightly flattened); brown; surfaces smooth (or minutely wrinkled at 40×).

Chromosome information. 2n = 36.

2n (4x) = 36. For the collective species. Löve and Löve (1982a, Arctic Canada); Zhukova (1982 northeastern Asia).

Ploidy levels recorded 4x.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: lakeshores, seashores (sandbars); imperfectly drained moist areas, dry; gravel, sand, till; with low organic content; calcareous (weakly).

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited. Low Arctic. Arctic islands: Banks and Victoria.

Northern hemisphere distribution. Amphi-Beringian, or North American. Wrangel Island, East Chukotka, West Alaska, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay.

General notes. This is a colonising species of dry sunny slopes and herbmats. It is easily recognised by the larger terminal flowers, with pointed petal tips. Gillett (1957) reported that he climbed Mt. Caribou in the Yukon and observed that plants decreased in size without any apparent break in the population continuity, so that plant size could not be used to recognise more than one taxon.

Elven (personal communication, 2005) indicated that if subspecies are recognised the plants found in the Arctic Islands belong toGentianella propinqua (Richardson) J.M. Gillett subsp. arctophila (Griseb.) Tzvelev, whereas subsp. propinqua is found on the mainland, partly very close to the islands from Cape Bathurst to Coronation Gulf.

Illustrations. • Habitat. Purplish brown plants growing between the markers and in disturbed gravel. Manitoba, Churchill, Beech Cove. Aiken and Brysting 01029. CAN. • Close-up of plants. Plants 10–15 cm high, with brownish stems, opposite leaves and inflorescences with the uppermost flower most fully developed. Manitoba, Churchill, Beech Cove. Aiken and Brysting 01029. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Close-up of flower. Flowers in bud. Note the fused calyx with acute tips to the lobes, and the fused petals with overlapping lobes and acute tips. Aiken and Brysting 01029. CAN. • Plant drawing. a, plant, actual height approximately 25 cm high; b, corolla showing pointed tips to the petals, anthers attached above the middle of the petals and a gynoecium with two stigmas; c, calyx with fused sepals; d, seed. Plate from Gillett (1963) with permission. • 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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