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

Comastoma tenellum (Rottb.) Toyok.

English: Slender gentian,

French: Gentiane délicate,

Inuktitut: Isursiliutiit, tiirluusutillu.

Gentianaceae, Gentian family.

Published in Bot. Mag. (Tokyo) 74: 198. 1961.

Type: Described from Norway: "In albibus Norvegiae".

Synonymy. Gentiana tenella Rottb., Skr. Kiøbenhavnske Selsk. Lærd. Elsk. 10: 436. 1770.

Gentianella tenella (Rottb.) Börner, Fl. Deutsche Volk 542. 1912.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 4–15(–25) cm high; perennial 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 attenuate (somewhat clasping the stem). Leaves not grass-like. Blades 4–10 mm long, 1–3 mm wide, spreading, elliptic or spatulate, flat, appearing single-veined or veins reticulate. Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins entire; apices acuminate, or acute.

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems conspicuously taller than the leaves; with leaves. Flowers solitary, or in inflorescences (with few flowers). Inflorescences cymose (if applicable, central flower largest). Flowers small, or medium-sized. Sepals conventional; 4, or 5; fused (at the base); 4.5–7.5(–10) mm wide; green. Calyx tubular; 4-lobed, or 5-lobed; glabrous. Petals conventional; fused; 4; blue, or white; 8–10(–16) mm long; not spurred. Corolla tubular (with two fringed scales at the point where the fused petals divide into lobes); 4-lobed, or 5-lobed (triangular-ovate). Stamens 4, or 5; stamen filaments glabrous; fused to the corolla (near the upper third of the corolla tube). Anthers yellow; sub-globose (oval); 0.4–0.6(–1) mm long. Nectaries present (at the base of the ovary). Ovary superior; carpels 2; syncarpous. Ovaries glabrous. Placentation parietal. Ovules per ovary numerous. Fruit with calyx persisting; dry; a capsule; elongate-cylindrical; yellowish, or brown; 8–14 mm long; 2–3 mm wide; glabrous; dehiscent. Seeds 0.4–0.75 mm long (ovoid, slightly flattened); brown; surfaces smooth.

Chromosome information. 2n = 10.

2n = 10. Knaben (1950, Norway); D. Löve (1953, Iceland?); Löve and Löve (1956, Iceland, 1986); Zhukova (1966, northeastern Asia); Johnson and Packer (1968, northwestern Alaska); Krogulevich (1978, Siberia); Dalgaard (1988, western Greenland). Several more southern counts.

Ploidy levels recorded 2x.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: wet meadows, lakeshores, tundra, slopes; imperfectly drained moist areas, dry; rocks, gravel.

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

Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar, or circumboreal (arctic-alpine, very disjunct). 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, West Greenland, East Greenland.

General notes. Gillett (1963) noted that this species also occurs in northern Europe and Asia. In the southern parts of these continents, it is found in the mountains. With the exception of a small population from the Pribilof Islands, Alaska, described as subsp. pribilofii J.M. Gillett, all American material is subsp. tenella. Gillett (1963) suggested that collectors often overlook this species because it can be mistaken for Gentianella propinqua, which may explain the scattered distribution records.

Illustrations. • Black and white drawing. a, plant, approximately actual size; b, corolla showing rounded tips to the petals, the two fringed scales on each petal at the opening of the corolla and anthers attached below the middle of the petals; c, detail of fringed scales on the petals; d, calyx with sepals spreading and only fused at the base; e, seed. Plate from Gillett (1963) with permission. Specimens have been collected on the Arctic Islands since 1963. • Close-up of plant. Drawing by Mrs. S. Bergh and Mrs. L. Barstad based on a collection from Svalbard. With permission of the Botanical Museum, University of Oslo, Norway. • Close-up of plant. Drawing by Mrs. S. Bergh and Mrs. L. Barstad based on a collection from Svalbard. With permission of the Botanical Museum, University of Oslo, Norway. • 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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