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

Montia fontana L.

English: Arctic purslane, water blinks,

French: Montie des sources.

Portulacaceae, Purslane family.

Published in Sp. Pl. 87.1753.

Type: Northern Sweden. Selected by Jonsell and Jarvis, Regnum Veg. 127: 67. 1993. Lectotype: LAPP 57.

Synonymy. Montia lamprosperma Cham., Linnaea 6: 564. 1831.

Claytonia hallii A. Gray, Proc. Amer. Acad. 22: 283. 1887.

Montia clara Nilsson, Grana Palyn. vii. 348. 358. 1967.

Montia funstonii Rydberg, N. Amer. Fl. 21: 316. 1932.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 1–5 cm high (in Arctic island specimens, to 15 cm high Manitoba and Alaskan collections); annual herbs. Taproot present (but poorly developed). Ground level or underground stems absent. Aerial stems erect, or prostrate (stems weak, often prostrate when plants grow on soft substrates). Leaves distributed along the stems; opposite; dying annually and non-persistent. Petioles absent (usually), or present (sometimes on the lower leaves); 0.1–2 mm long; glabrous. Leaf blades simple. Leaf blade bases attenuate. Leaves not grass-like. Blades 3–10(–15) mm long, 1–3 mm wide, ovate or oblanceolate, flat, appearing single-veined or with inconspicuous veins. Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins entire; apices rounded.

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems two or more per plant; with leaves. Flowers solitary (rarely, in tiny plants), or in inflorescences. Inflorescences cymose (if applicable, in larger specimens, flowers may appear to be in pairs, often at the tips of the stem, often on conspicuous pedicels). Pedicels present; glabrous. Flowers per inflorescence 1–3(–6); small (inconspicuous); bilaterally symmetrical (zygomorphic) (slightly). Sepals conventional; 2; free; 1.8–2.4 mm long; 1–1.5 mm wide; green; herbaceous, or fleshy (slightly). Calyx glabrous. Petals conventional; free; 3; green (drying pale, creamy); without contrasting markings; obovate; unlobed (sometimes rolling inwards to form tube-like structures); 1–1.5 mm long; 0.5–0.6 mm wide. Stamens 3. Anthers 0.2–0.3 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 3; syncarpous. Ovaries sub-globose; glabrous. Styles present (short); 3 (each with a forked lobe); partially fused. Placentation basal (with a single ovule), or free central (in the family, but reduced to a single ovule in this genus and appearing basal). Ovules per ovary 1. Fruit with calyx persisting; dry; a capsule; spherical; black (the colour coming from the seeds as the ripe fruit wall is membranous, pale green, and easily split); 1–1.5 mm long; 0.8–1 mm wide; dehiscent; splitting to the base into separate segments. Seeds 1–3; 0.9–1.1 mm long; black, or brown; surfaces smooth (but with rows of lenticular markings. Seeds characteristic of the family. Embryo peripheral and more or less curved around a starchy centre).

Chromosome information. 2n = 18 and 20.

2n (2x, x = 9) = 18. Hagerup (1941a, northern Europe); Löve and Löve (1948, northern Europe); Moore (1963); Veselukhina (1976, eastern Chukotka);

2n (2x, x = 10) = 20. Jørgensen et al. (1958, Greenland); Lövkvist, in Weimarck (1963, Sweden); Moore (1963); Nilsson (1966a and b, Alaska, two counts); Zhukova (1966, northeastern Asia); Johnson and Packer (1968, northwestern Alaska); Löve (1970a, Iceland); Zhukova (1982, northeastern Asia); Dalgaard (1989, western Greenland). Several more southern counts.

The count of 18 is considered suspicious (Yurtsev 2001, personal communication).

Ploidy levels recorded 2x.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: wet meadows, around the margins of ponds; imperfectly drained moist areas, seepage slopes; moss. In wet springy places among mosses, along brooks, or among tall sedges and grasses by the edge of stagnant and muddy pools, less commonly in open places in wet sand or mud when stems become prostrate and somewhat tufted.

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Arctic islands: Baffin and Victoria (This species of tiny plants may be under-collected).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar, or circumboreal (large gaps, especially in northern Asia and central North America). Northern Iceland, Northern Fennoscandian, Kanin–Pechora, Polar Ural – Novaya Zemlya, Kharaulakh, West Chukotka, South Chukotka, East Chukotka, West Alaska, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay, West Greenland, East Greenland.

General notes. Montia is the only representative of this family in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. It may be more widespread, and should be looked for at early Hudson Bay trading post sites, as it was found growing in damp mud near the shore at the Ward Inlet site on Frobisher Bay.

The reasons for treating M. lamprosperma Cham. [described from Alaska: Unalaska] as a synonym of M. fontana L. were presented by Moore (1963), Bot. Not. 116: 16–30, and confirmed by the monographic studies of Nilsson (1967).

Miller (2003) noted that M. fontana displays a multitude of forms, varying in stature, leaf shape, and seed size. Segregate species, varieties, and subspecies have been named. Based on his study of worldwide collections, much of the variation is attributable to phenotypic differentiation produced by local environmental conditions and unrelated to genetic variation. Miller (2003) stated that until macromolecular or other studies shed light on the variation in M. fontana, it seems pointless to recognise infraspecific taxa or segregate species.

Illustrations. • Close-up of plants. Montia fontana is a small plant of only 1–5 cm tall in the arctic islands, distinguished from similar species by having opposite leaves that lack sheathing stipules and two sepals (as compared to Koenigia islandica). Baffin Island, Cormack Bay, S.G. Aiken 89–033. 18 Aug. 1989. CAN 541715. • Close-up of plant. Small plants of 1–5 cm tall, distinguished from similar species by green or pale colouring, opposite leaves and two sepals. Baffin Island, Cormack Bay, S.G. Aiken 89–033. 18 Aug. 1989. CAN 541715. • 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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