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

Papaver keelei A.E. Porsild

Inuktitut: Igutsat niqingit.

Papaveraceae, Poppy family.

Published in Bull. Natl. Mus. Canada 101: 20. 1945.

Type: Canada: Yukon Territory, Canol Road, Mackenzie Range, small tributary to Little Keele R., Mile 51, 08.09.1944, A.E. Porsild and A.J. Breitung 11782. Holotype: CAN.

Synonymy. Papaver macounii Greene var. discolor Hultén, Acta Univ. Lund., n. s., sect. 2, 41, 1: 803. 1945. Type: Alaska: Nome, hillside, 11 July 1938, J.P. Anderson 3250. Holotype: S.

Papaver macounii Greene subsp. discolor (Hultén) Rändel ex D.F. Murray, Novon 5: 294. 1995.

Papaver scammanianum D. Löve, Bot. Not. 109: 188. 1956. Type: Alaska: Eagle Summit, 109 miles N of Fairbanks, close to Porcupine Dome, 23.-30. June 1945, E. Scamman 3530. Holotype: GH.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 20–40 cm high; herbs; perennial herbs; caespitose (loosely). Taproot present. Ground level or underground stems vertical. Caudex present (at ground level and tapering into a long taproot). Aerial stems a small transition zone between taproot and basal leaves. Leaves mainly basal (basal); alternate; dying annually and non-persistent (leaf blades persisting for a single season or less), or marcescent (with several persisting leaf bases, flexible, lanceolate, ciliate, glabrous to hispid, dark brown to reddish brown). Petioles flat; hairy. Leaf colouration discolorous, distinctly pale on the lower surface. Leaf blade bases truncate, or cuneate. Blades 40–120 mm long, oblanceolate or obovate, flat, veins pinnate. Blade adaxial surface dull (green or light green or glaucous), hairy, hairs simple. Blade abaxial surface not glaucous. Blades lobed (with 2–3 pairs of forward-pointing primary lateral lobes). Leaf primary lobes mostly undivided or with mostly simple primary lobes, ovate-lanceolate to obovate-lanceolate, all lobes pointing forwards. Blade margins with non-glandular hairs; apices acute, or obtuse.

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems conspicuously taller than the leaves. Flowering stems erect, straight. Flowering stems without leaves. Flowering stem moderately hairy with short, subappressed to subpatent brown to pale hairs. Flowers solitary. Flowers large (to 5 cm in diameter). Sepals conventional; 2 (connate, igloo-shaped, with specialised margins, enclosing the bud, caducous; bud narrowly oblong, more narrow than in most arctic poppies); free. Calyx hairy. Petals conventional; free; 4; yellow; obovate; unlobed; 10–25 mm long; (6–)8–20 mm wide. Stamens 30–50 (a distinction from the probably closely related Asian P. paucistaminum). Anthers yellow; long-cylindrical. Ovary superior; carpels 4–8; syncarpous. Ovaries hairy; strigose (sparsely to densely). Styles absent (4–6 stigmas on a connate, high, cone-shaped stigmatic disc). Stigmatic disc shape narrowly peaked with distinctly decurrent rays (4–6 stigmas). Placentation parietal. Ovules per ovary 50–200 (numerous). Fruit without calyx persisting; dry; a capsule; obconical (narrowly). Capsule 3–4 times longer than broad. Fruit brown; 15–25 mm long; hairy. Capsule trichomes light to mid-brown. Fruit not distinctly flattened; dehiscent. Styles [stigmas] persisting. Seeds 50–200 (numerous); 0.9–1.1 mm long; brown.

Chromosome information. 2n = 28.

2n = 28 (tetraploid) Horn (1938, Alaska); Knaben (1959a, 1959b, 1968, Central Alaska, three counts); Johnson and Packer (1968, NW Alaska); Zhukova and Tikhonova (1971, E Chukotka); Zhukova et al. (1973, E Chukotka, two counts); Packer and McPherson (1974, N Alaska Barrow); Zhukova and Petrovsky (1985a, E Chukotka, eight counts); Murray and Kelso (1997, W Alaska); Solstad et al. (unpublished, Yukon, three counts, and Alaska, four counts, flow cytometry).

[2n = 70. Two counts of 2n = 70 (decaploid) were assigned to P. keelei: Mulligan and Porsild (1969, Yukon), Porsild (1975, Yukon). However, these two counts stem from another species (see comments below)].

Indigenous knowledge. Inuit refer to Arctic poppy as igutsat niqingit. Igutsat translates as "bumble-bees", a reference to the observation that the yellow flowers are much appreciated by bumble-bees. Igutsat niqingit means "bumble-bee food" (Ootoova et al. 2001).

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: tundra (mesic), slopes; imperfectly drained moist areas, seepage slopes; gravel, sand, silt, moss (very common in moist moss carpets); with high organic content (mostly), with low organic content; circum-neutral (mostly), or acidic, or calcareous. Differs from all other North American Arctic poppies by growing in moist and usually densely vegetated habitats, very often as scattered shoots or open mats in moss carpets, and thereby often overlooked when not flowering. It also differs in production of numerous non-flowering shoots and often few flowering shoots (the other poppies do the opposite). This means that this species is found mostly in situations where no other poppies grow. Typical habitats in mainland arctic sites are herb-mats and mossy patches at base of slopes, sometimes close to snow banks, and sometimes in ericaceous heaths with some underground seepage.

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited. Rare. Arctic, alpine, boreal. Arctic islands: Banks (Three records at CAN).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Amphi-Beringian. East Chukotka, West Alaska, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada (very rare).

General notes. Morphologically P. macounii s.s. differs from P. keelei in many features, e.g., basal sheaths much more persistent and firm, leaves nearly concolourous and paler green, scapes often numerous and ascending, and flowers much larger and with more numerous stamens. We can see little reason for lumping them within one species, except for the single feature of a narrow capsule with a pyramidal stigmatic disc. However, this feature is also shared with several Asian species. The plants we have seen of P. keelei from arctic Canada (incl. Banks Island) closely correspond morphologically to those throughout Alaska and eastern Chukotka.

Porsild (1945) described P. keelei from Yukon, and Hultén (1945) described P. macounii subsp. discolor from Alaska. Subsequent authors have proposed that the names represent different entities. This assumption was based on publication of two decaploid chromosome counts for P. keelei from Yukon (Mulligan and Porsild 1969, Porsild 1975) as different from the numerous tetraploid counts for P. macounii subsp. discolor [see above]. During field work in Alaska and Yukon in 1998–2003, we saw some variation. We tried to sort this into the two entities that were described, but we were not comfortable with the result. We collected plants conforming morphologically with P. keelei as described in northern Yukon (British Mountains 1999, Richardson Mountains 2003) and in north-central Yukon (Ogilvie Mountains 2003), but they were all found to be tetraploid in flow cytometry (Solstad et al., unpublished). According to D.F. Murray (pers. comm.) the Mulligan voucher was originally identified as P. radicatum Rottb. This fits well with reported decaploids from several populations of Alaskan and Yukon plants assigned to P. radicatum’ in the previous North American concept. Murray recollects that the Mulligan voucher was not representative of P. keelei stating: ‘So, the 2n=70 reports may be a red herring―eventually to be ignored.’ We consider the names P. keelei and P. macounii subsp. discolor as contemporaneous namings of the same taxon of which P. keelei is the valid name if accepted as a species.

The morphologically closest relatives are found in the north Siberian and northeast Asian P. paucistaminum Tolm. & V.V.Petrovsky group (P. paucistaminum, P. minutiflorum Tolm. and P. atrovirens V.V.Petrovsky). Common features include the narrowly clavate capsules with a high conical stigmatic disc, the comparatively few stigmatic rays, and partly also the diffuse growth and preference for damp and densely vegetated grassy or mossy habitats. Main differences between P. keelei and the P. paucistaminum group are the lower ploidal level and the more numerous stamens of P. keelei. Analyses of AFLP fragments also confirm a genetic connection between P. atrovirens and P. paucistamineum although the results are not that clear-cut probably due to polyploidisation and reticulation events (Solstad et al., unpublished results).

Illustrations. • Close-up of plant. Flowering scape. Plants growing more or less singly in mossy Salix heath. Alaska, Seward Peninsula, Arctic Creek along Teller Road. July, 1998. Photograph by R. Elven. Voucher at 0. • Herbarium specimen. Plant that has hairy leaves with long hairs on the tips. Capsule four times as long as wide. Nunavut, Tree River. CAN 241977. • Close-up of capsule. Capsule four times as long as wide. Nunavut, Tree River. CAN 241977. • 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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