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

Pinguicula vulgaris L.

English: Butterwort, common butterwort,

French: Grassette vulgaire.

Lentibulariaceae, Bladderwort family.

Published in Sp. Pl. 17. 1753.

Type: Described from Europe, selected by Cheek, in Jarvis et al., Regnum Veget. 127: 76. 1993. Lectotype: LINN 33.1.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 5–10(–15) cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose. Only fibrous roots present. Poorly developed, or at least poorly preserved. Ground level or underground stems absent. Caudex present (small). Aerial stems a small transition zone between taproot and basal leaves. Leaves mainly basal; whorled; dying annually and non-persistent. Petioles absent. Leaf blades simple. Leaf blade bases rounded (slightly). Blades 5–30(–35) mm long, 4–12 mm wide, divaricate, elliptic and spatulate or triangular, flat (or slightly involute), veins pinnate (or slightly involute). Blade adaxial surface with sessile glands (that make the surface sticky and a trap for small insects. These are held and digested by a secretion from the glands. Under the microscope the glands appear as small (pimple-like) bumps on the leaves), glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins glabrous; apices acute.

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems solitary; without leaves. Flowers solitary. Pedicels with glandular hairs. Flowers medium-sized; bilaterally symmetrical (zygomorphic). Sepals conventional; 5; fused (at the base but free at the apex); purple (drying brown); herbaceous (glandular); non-accrescent (becoming leathery with age). Calyx funnel-form; 5-lobed (the odd sepal posterior); hairy. Petals conventional; fused; 5; purple, or blue and yellow (towards the centre); with contrasting markings (colour contrast between yellow throat and blue-purple towards the ends of the petals); 8–15 mm long; spurred (from the lower lip, the spur one-third as long as the petals). Corolla campanulate (two-lipped); 5-lobed. Stamens 2. Ovary superior; carpels 2; syncarpous. Placentation free central (or almost so). Ovules per ovary numerous and tiny. Fruit with calyx persisting; dry; a capsule; ovoid (flask-shaped); black, or brown; 2–3 mm long; 1.5–2.5 mm wide; hairy (with glandular hairs similar to those on the leaves); surface appearing veinless; not distinctly flattened; dehiscent. Seeds numerous; minute, 0.7–0.8 mm long × 0.2–0.2 mm wide; brown; surfaces ridged (honeycomb-like with glandular hairs).

Chromosome information. 2n = 64.

2n = 64. Löve and Löve (1944b, 1948, northern Europe; 1956; Iceland, 1982a; Arctic Canada); Jørgensen et al. (1958, Greenland); Sokolovskaya and Strelkova (1960, northern Russia); Lövkvist, in Weimarck (1963, Sweden); Laane (1967, 1969b, Norway); Sokolovskaya (1972, western Russia); Lövkvist and Hultgård (1999, Sweden). Several more southern counts.

Ploidy levels recorded 8x.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: around the margins of ponds, depressions of low-centre polygons; imperfectly drained moist areas; silt, clay; with low organic content; acidic, or calcareous (Porsild (1957) described this as occurring in damp calcareous soil by the edge of brooks and ponds. Elven (personal communication, 2005) remarked that he had seen it mostly seen it in circumneutral to acidic situations), or circum-neutral.

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited. Rare. Low Arctic, alpine. Arctic islands: Baffin (in 1989, S. Aiken observed isolated plants of P. vulgaris growing on the north shore of Frobisher Bay near McCormic Inlet, but did not collect a specimen).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar, or circumboreal (non-arctic in most of Asia). Northern Iceland, Northern Fennoscandian, Kanin–Pechora, Polar Ural – Novaya Zemlya, Yamal–Gydan, West Alaska, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay, West Greenland, East Greenland.

General notes. Casper (1962) provided a revision of the genus Pinguicula in Europe. Karlsson (1986), working in Sweden, found that plants of P. vulgaris had annual roots representing about 5–10% of their biomass, but no correlation was found between the size of the reproductive organs and the size of the overwintering buds. The numbers of seeds produced per capsule varied from 110 to 140.

Illustrations. • Habitat: Baffin Island. Plants less that 5 cm high with purple flowers and yellow-green leaves, growing near the scale bar and at the left side of the image. Dry exposed, south-facing tundra with sedge. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Soper River Valley, Lapus site. Aiken and Iles 02–056. CAN. • Close-up of plants: Manitoba. Small plants with pale yellow-green leaves. The black dots are the dead remains of insects on this insectivorous plant. Churchill, Manitoba. Aiken and Brysting 01–007. CAN. • Close-up of plants: Ontario. Plants with contrasting markings on the petals growing on the north shore of Lake Superior. Photograph by W.D. Bakowsky, Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre. • Close-up of plant: Baffin Island. Plants less that 5 cm high with purple flowers and yellow-green leaves growing on a dry exposed, south-facing tundra with sedge. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Soper River Valley, Lapus site. Aiken and Iles 02–056. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Close-up of plant. Plant with a red hairy flowering stem, yellow-green leaves and purple petals. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. 1962. Photographed by Ian Mclaren. • Close-up of leaves. Leaves showing surface covered with glands that have trapped an insect. The yellow leaves indicate a nitrogen-poor plant. Unable to retrieve enough nitrogen from the soil, the plant uses acids to break down the amino acids from the insect. Aiken and Iles 02–056. CAN. • Close-up of flowers. Zygomorphic flowers with deep purple-brown, gland- dotted calyx, and purple-blue petals with two lips. Manitoba, Churchill. Aiken and Brysting 01–007. CAN. • Close-up of fruit. Note glandular hairs on the flowering stem, and the fused calyx around the developing fruit that is topped with the yellow remains of the stigmas. Manitoba, Churchill. Aiken and Brysting 01–007. CAN. • 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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