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 maritima subsp. borealis (Lange) A. Blytt and O. Dahl

English: Seaside plaintain,

French: Plantian maritime.

Plantaginaceae, Plantain family.

Published in In A. Blytt, Haandb. Norges Fl. 651. 1906.

Type: Described from Greenland.

Synonymy. Plantago borealis Lange, Fl. Dan. 16, 46: 5. 1867.

Plantago subpolaris Andreev, Zhurn. Russk. Bot. Obshch. 15, 4: 298. 1930.

Plantago maritima L. subsp. subpolaris (Andreev) Tzvelev, Novosti Sist. Vyssh. Rast. 16: 173. 1979.

?Plantago juncoides Lam. var. glauca (Hornem.) Fernald, Rhodora 27, 101. 1925.

?Plantago maritima L. subsp. juncoides (Lam.) Hultén, Acta Univ. Lund., n. f., avd. 2, 45, 1: 1431. 1949.

?Plantago juncoides Lam., Tabl. Encycl. 1: 342. 1792.

Plantago canescens var. cylindrica (Macoun) B. Boivin

Vegetative morphology. Plants 3–10 cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose. Taproot present. Ground level or underground stems vertical (laxly). Caudex present. Aerial stems erect. Leaves mainly basal; alternate, or whorled; marcescent. Petioles absent. Ligules absent (although the leaves are grass-like). Leaves grass-like. Blades (15–)20–70 mm long, 0.8–2 mm wide, spreading, linear, flat, veins parallel or with inconspicuous veins. Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins entire; apices acuminate, or acute (attenuate).

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems two or more per plant; without leaves (the scapes dark purple, erect or spreading). Inflorescences head-like and spicate; dense; linear, or cylindrical; 0.5–1.5 cm long (Arctic island specimens; to 3 cm long in Greenland specimens); 5–7 mm wide. Pedicels absent. Floral bracts tawny; 2–2.5 mm long; hairy mainly at apex; hairs sparse; hairs straight. Flowers per inflorescence (5–)10–20; small. Sepals conventional; 4; free (anterior sepals with membranous margins of unequal width); 2–3 mm wide; green, or white. Calyx glabrous. Petals conventional; fused; 4; white; 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 (between the corolla lobes); stamen filaments glabrous (long exerted); fused to the corolla. Anthers yellow (conspicuous at anthesis); short-cylindrical (apiculate). Anthers splitting longitudinally. Anthers 1–1.4 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; spherical; yellowish; 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; 1.4–1.6 mm long; black, or brown; surfaces smooth.

Chromosome information. 2n = 12.

2n = 12. Löve and Löve (1956, Iceland; 1982a, Arctic Canada); Jørgensen et al. (1958, Greenland); Taylor and Mulligan (1968, western Canada); Pojar (1973, western Canada); Dalgaard (1989, western Greenland). The counts for P. maritima s.l. from eastern Canada possibly belong here: Gervais and Cayouette (1985) and Gervais et al. (1999).

Ploidy levels recorded 2x.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: seashores; rocks, sand, moss (in cracks near high tide line, or occasionally by saline springs inland); with low organic content; halophytic.

North American distribution. Alaska, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited. Rare. Low Arctic. Arctic islands: Baffin (two records from near Frobisher Bay).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Amphi-Atlantic, or amphi-Beringian. Northern Iceland, Northern Fennoscandian, Kanin–Pechora, Polar Ural – Novaya Zemlya, West Alaska, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay, West Greenland, East Greenland.

General notes. The 'juncoides' names are questioned, as the name relates to a plant from South America, and the correspondence between South American and northern plants has not been sufficiently documented (Elven et al. 2003).

Illustrations. • Habitat. Seaside plaintain growing in and beside a run-off stream draining into tidal flats. Area is covered by salty water at high tides. Manitoba, Churchill River, Beech Bay. Aiken and Brysting 01–019. CAN. • Close-up of plant. Seaside plaintain plant approximately 8 cm high. Spicate inflorescences are setting fruit. Note narrow grass-like leaves. Manitoba, Churchill River, Beech Bay. Aiken and Brysting 01–019. CAN. • Close-up of fruiting inflorescence. Spicate inflorescence, approximately 3 cm long. Tube of four fading white petals and pink-green sepals with rounded apices surround the developing fruit with remains of the style protruding. In one central flower the tawny floral bract with an acute apex is visible. Aiken and Brysting 01–019. Scale bar in cm. • 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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