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

Hippuris vulgaris L.

English: Common mare's tail,

French: Pesse commune, queue de cheval.

Hippuridaceae, Mare's tail family.

Published in Sp. Pl. 4. 1753.

Type: Described from Europe, selected by Nilsson, in Jonsell and Jarvis, Nord. J. Bot. 22: 83. 2002. Lectotype: Clifford Herbarium: 3, Hippuris No. 1.

Vegetative morphology. Plants (4–)30–100(–150) cm high; perennial herbs; sometimes vegetatively proliferating by fragmentation. Only fibrous roots present. Roots developed from free-floating fragments. Ground level or underground stems horizontal (and semi-horizontal stems, rooting in soft substrates); rhizomatous (but rhizomes are rarely found on herbarium specimens); elongate, or compact. Aerial stems developed; erect. Leaves present; heterophyllous (particularly when plants grow in shallow water), or not heterophyllous (submerged plants); distributed along the stems; whorled (4–10 leaves per whorl); dying annually and non-persistent. Petioles absent. Leaf blades simple. Leaf blade bases truncate. Blades (2–)5–15 mm long, (0.3–)0.5–1(–2) mm wide (aerial and aquatic leaves), divaricate, straight, linear (to linear attenuate, both submerged and aerial leaves), flat, appearing single-veined or with inconspicuous veins. Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins glabrous. Hydathodes absent. Blade apices acuminate.

Reproductive morphology. Plants bisexual (usually), or monoecious (occasionally female only). Flowering stems solitary. Flowering stems circular or oval in cross section. Flowering stems with leaves; rooting at the lower nodes (especially in soft mud). Flowers solitary (in the axil of a leaf). Pedicels absent. Flowers small; bilaterally symmetrical (zygomorphic) (very reduced); bisexual. Sepals absent (reduced to an inconspicuous 2–4 lobed or sub-entire rim around the top of the ovary). Petals absent. Stamens 1 (arising from the top of the ovary). Anthers purple (turning brown). Ovary inferior; carpels 1; monomerous (pseudo-monomerous). Styles present (elongate slender). Stigmas per ovary 1 (along the whole length of the style). Placentation apical. Ovules per ovary 1 (pendulous). Fruit sessile; dry; an achene; oblong; brown (dark brown or blackish); 1.8–2 mm long; 0.8–0.9 mm wide; glabrous; surface appearing veinless; not distinctly flattened; indehiscent. Seeds 1.

Chromosome information. 2n = 32.

2n = 32. Juel (1911, northern Europe); Winge (1917, northern Europe); Sørensen and Westergaard, in Löve and Löve (1948, Greenland); Löve and Löve (1956, Iceland; 1982a, central Canada; 1982c, eastern Canada); Jørgensen et al. (1958, Greenland); Sokolovskaya (1960a, northeastern Asia, Sokolovskaya; 1963, northeastern Asia, Kamtch; 1970, northeastern Russia); Lövkvist in Weimarck (1963, Sweden); Sorsa (1963b, Finland); Löve and Ritchie (1966, northern Canada); Zhukova (1966, 1968, northeastern Asia; 1980, southern Chukotka); Johnson and Packer (1968, northwestern Alaska); Taylor and Mulligan (1968, western Canada); Zhukova et al. (1973, northern and northeastern Asia; 1977, northeastern Asia); Packer and McPherson (1974, northern Alaska); Zhukova and Petrovsky (1976, western Chukotka); Krogulevich (1976, northern Siberia); Engelskjøn (1979, northern Norway); Yurtsev and Zhukova (1982, northern Siberia); Lövkvist and Hultgård (1999, southern Sweden). Numerous more southern counts.

Ploidy levels recorded 4x.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: aquatic (in water to 1 m deep).

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. Rare. Arctic islands: Baffin, Devon, Ellesmere, Banks, Victoria, Somerset, Southampton, and Coats (Boothia Peninsula).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar, or circumboreal. 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, Ellesmere Land – Peary Land, West Greenland, East Greenland.

General notes. With a bit of imagination the tops of the plant sticking up above the water look like a tail of a horse, or more likely a donkey (Burt 2000). Ducks feed on mare's tail, and it is used as a potherb or cooked in chowders by wild-food enthusiasts, but it has been described as tasting very green (Schofield 1989). "The Inupiat and Yupik of Alaska cook it in water with seal oil and add seal blood to make a soup. The Inuit of the Central Arctic do not use it." (Burt 2000, p. 44).

Gloschenko and Martini (1987), in a study made of the vegetation of four river-influenced coastal marshes located between the Moose River and Harricanaw River in southern James Bay, found six major grouping of species. These included (1) a salt marsh dominated by Puccinellia phryganodes, P. lucida, Hippuris tetraphylla, and Scirpus maritimus; (2) saline ponds with Senecio congestus; (3) a saline/brackish meadow marsh with Carex paleacea; (4) an intertidal estuarine marsh with Eleocharis palustris; (5) freshwater ponds with Potamogeton filiformis; and (6) a freshwater marsh/fen. Major environmental factors controlling the distribution of these groups include substrate salinity, river flow patterns, storm surges, and tidal range. These marshes are unique in species composition in James Bay.

Illustrations. • Close-up of stem and flowers. Note approximately eight narrow, acute leaves in each whorl. Norway, Troms, Ibestand, Fugleberg. 9 July, 1978. Photograph by R. Elven. • Close-up of whorl of fruits. Stem nodes with eight linear leaves and a single fruit borne in the axil of each leaf. Note rim at the top of the inferior ovary that represents the vestigial calyx and single dehisced anther on the edge of some of the fruits. N.W.T., Nahanni National Park. CAN 483237. • 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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