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

Plantago canescens M.F. Adams

Plantaginaceae, Plantain family.

Published in Mém. Soc. Imp. Naturalistes Moscou, 9: 233. 1834.

Type: Described from northern Siberia: "Crescit ad ripas Lenæ Jachutzk".

Synonymy. ?P. septata E. Morris, in Britton and Rydberg, Bull. New York Bot. Gard. 2, 6: 182. 1901.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 3–25(–30) cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose. Taproot present. Ground level or underground stems vertical. Caudex present. Aerial stems erect. Leaves mainly basal; alternate; marcescent. Petioles present (each gradually tapering into the leaf blade); 2–50 mm long; winged (near the blade), or not winged (at the base); convex to flat in cross section; glabrous, or hairy; woolly. Petiole hairs shorter than the diameter of the petiole; appressed, or spreading; straight. Ligules absent. Leaves grass-like. Blades (10–)15–90 mm long, 1.5–8 mm wide, spreading, lanceolate (narrowly), flat, veins parallel or with inconspicuous veins. Blade adaxial surface hairy, hairs pilose, hairs simple, hairs sparse, hairs white, or translucent. Blade abaxial surface hairy, hairs woolly, hairs sparse, hairs white and a mixture of white and yellow (distinctly rough from short, stiff pubescence), hairs curved or wavy, hairs spreading (floccose). Blade margins dentate (teeth tiny), with teeth all around the blade (if applicable); apices acute.

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems without leaves (stiffly erect). Inflorescences head-like and spicate; dense; oblong, or lanceolate; 1–3(–4) cm long; 5–10 mm wide. Pedicels absent. Floral bracts purplish red; 1.8–2.2 mm long; glabrous, or hairy mainly at apex (on the margins and adaxial surface); hairs sparse; hairs straight. Flowers per inflorescence (20–)40–80; small. Sepals conventional; 4; free; 1.2–2.5 mm wide; brown, or purplish red (on the midvein), or white (towards the margins). Calyx glabrous. Petals conventional; fused; 4; pink, or purple; 4–5 mm long; 1–2 mm wide. Corolla rotate (free portion of the corolla), or tubular (fused portion of the corolla); 4-lobed. Stamens 4; stamen filaments glabrous (long exerted); fused to the corolla. Anthers yellow (conspicuous at anthesis); short-cylindrical (apiculate). Anthers splitting longitudinally. Anthers 1.2–2 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 2; syncarpous. Ovaries ovate; glabrous. Styles 1. Stigmas per ovary 1. Placentation axile. Ovules per ovary 4. Fruit sessile; with calyx persisting; dry; a capsule; ovoid; yellowish, or brown; 2.5–3.5 mm long; 1.5–2 mm wide; not distinctly flattened; dehiscent; splitting around the middle releasing a cup-shaped cap. Seeds 4; 1.5–1.8 mm long; black, or brown; surfaces smooth.

Chromosome information. 2n = 12.

2n = 12. Rahn, in Löve (1966); Bassett (1967); Hedberg (1967, Alaska, as P. cf. canescens); Mulligan and Porsild (1969, Yukon); Zhukova et al. (1973, northeastern Asia); Zhukova and Petrovsky (1987b, northeastern Asia, as 'jurtzevii').

Ploidy levels recorded 2x.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: slopes, cliffs; rocks, gravel (screes); with low organic content; calcareous.

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, continental Nunavut. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited. Uncommon. Arctic islands: Banks, Victoria.

Northern hemisphere distribution. Amphi-Beringian. Kharaulakh (introduced), West Chukotka, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada.

General notes. Various attempts have been made to subdivide this variable species, but the taxa proposed have proved difficult to define morphologically.

Ritchie (1977) considered Plantago canescens and Selaginella sibirica to be among megaberingian floristic elements that reached an area near Inuvik, N.W.T., early in the course of plant migration. He studied the Campbell-Dolomite uplands, a small area (140 km2) of outcropping, faulted dolomite, limestone, and shale east of the Mackenzie River Delta, approximately 40 km south of the northern limit of trees. The patterns of change in pollen spectra suggest an initial phase of migration of willow and herbs from adjacent unglaciated Megaberingia (North Yukon and Alaska), followed rapidly by dwarf birch and later poplar. Megaberingian floristic elements, for example, Plantago canescens and Selaginella sibirica, reached the area during this early phase of migration.

Illustrations. • Habitat: Banks Island. Plants beside the white markers in dry rocky tundra near the top of a bank with Carex fuliginosa subsp. misandra and Draba. N.W.T., Banks Island, Aulavik National Park. July, 1999. Aiken 99–018. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Close-up of plant in habitat. Plant with two inflorescenses in bud. N.W.T., Banks Island, Aulavik National Park. 4 July, 1999. Aiken 99–018. CAN. • Close-up of inflorescence in bud. Inflorescences with several flowers in bud and deep purple sepals. Note hairs of the margins of the otherwise glabrous leaves. N.W.T., Banks Island, Aulavik National Park. 4 July, 1999. Aiken 99–018. CAN. • Close-up of plants in habitat. Plants with linear leaves and capitate inflorescences. N.W.T., Banks Island, Sachs Harbour, across from sand dunes. 28 July, 1981. J.M. Gillett 18905. • Close-up of plant. Plant with inflorescences beginning to flower. Stigmas are exposed first. N.W.T., Banks Island, Aulavik National Park. 11 July, 1999. Aiken 99–057. CAN. • Close-up of inflorescence. Inflorescences with flowers beginning to open. Note very long filaments on the anthers at the left-hand side of the picture, and the hairy petiole. N.W.T., Banks Island, Aulavik National Park. 4 July, 1999. Aiken 99–018. CAN. • Close-up of plants. Previous season's dehisced inflorescences. N.W.T., Banks Island, Aulavik National Park. 4 July, 1999. Aiken 99–018. 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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