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

Calamagrostis canadensis (Michx.) P. Beauv. subsp. langsdorffii (Link) Hultén

English: Canada Blue Joint, bluejoint grass,

French: Calamagrostide du Canada,

Inuktitut: Iviit, ivisuka, ivitsuskaka.

Poaceae, Grass family.

Published in Acta Univ. Lund. 2, 38, no.1: 161. 1942.

Type: "Habitat...." Cult. Berlin.

Synonymy. Arundo langsdorffi Link, Enum. Hort. Berol. Alt. 1: 74. 1821.

Calamagrostis langsdorffii (Link) Trin., Gram. Unifl. 225, pl. 4, fig. 10. 1824.

Deyeuxia langsdorffii (Link) Kunth, Rev. Gram. 1: 77. 1829.

Calamagrostis canadensis (Michx.) P. Beauv. var. langsdorffii (Link) Inman, Rhodora 24: 143. 1922.

Calamagrostis purpurea (Trin.) Trin. subsp. langsdorffii (Link) Tzvelev, Novosti Sist. Vyssh. Rast. 1965: 34. 1965.

Arundo canadensis Michx., Fl. Bor.-Amer. 1: 73. 1803.

Calamagrostis canadensis (Michx.) P. Beauv. Ess. Agrostogr. 15, 152, 157. 1812. Type: Canada: "A sinu Hudsonis ad Canadam praesertim ad ripas lacunum", leg. Michaux (P) holotype.

Calamagrostis scabra C. Presl, Rel. Haenk. 1: 234. 1830. Type: ‘Hab. in sinu Nootka.’ Vancouver Island.

Calamagrostis hirtigluma Steud., Syn. Pl. Glum. (or Gram.) 1: 188. 1854. Type: ‘Labrador. (Mission Albrecht) Groenlandica ? Terra nova.’

Calamagrostis oregonensis Buckley, Proc. Acad. Phil. 1862: 92. 1862 (in part, according to Gray, Proc. Acad. Phil. 1863: 334. 1863).

Calamagrostis canadensis (Michx.) P. Beauv. var. scabra (Presl.) Hitchc., Amer. J. Bot. 21: 135. 1934.

Vegetative morphology. Plants (25–)30–115 cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose. Only fibrous roots present. Ground level or underground stems horizontal; rhizomatous; elongate, or compact; (0.6–)1–2.5 mm wide. Ground level or underground stems scales present; surfaces striate (prominent veins), or grooved; 3–30 mm long; glabrous. Aerial stems erect, or ascending. Leaves present; mainly basal and distributed along the stems; alternate; marcescent. Petioles absent. Sheaths present; with the margins fused only in the lower part; glabrous, or with trichomes; hirsute, or scabrous (tiny scaberules); sheath collars present. Ligules present; (1.5–)5–8(–12) mm long; membranous; hairy (abaxial surface); lanceolate. Ligule apices obtuse; entire, or erose and lacerate. Leaves grass-like. Blades 40–100 mm long, 2.5–3.5(–6) mm wide (when flat), appressed to the stem or spreading, rolled in bud, linear, without auricles (usually) or with clasping auricles (rarely), flat or involute (rarely), veins parallel, midvein similar in size to other veins in the leaf. Blade adaxial surface scabrous or hairy, hairs puberulent, hairs simple, hairs sparse or moderately dense, hairs white, or translucent. Blade abaxial surface glabrous or scabrous (scaberulous). Blade margins flat or slightly revolute.

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems circular or oval in cross section. Flowering stems with leaves; culm nodes becoming exposed (usually); culm nodes number visible (0–)1–2(–3). Inflorescences paniculate; dense, or diffuse; oblong, or lanceolate (or pyramidal); 3.5–20 cm long; 8–86 mm wide. Inflorescences main axis scabrous. Number of inflorescence branches at lowest node 2–4. Inflorescence primary branches 2.5–10(–15) mm long; scabrous (to long hairy); with appressed secondary branches, or with spreading secondary branches. Spikelets disarticulating above the glumes; lanceolate; 3.7–5.2 mm long; 1.2–3.3 mm wide. Florets per spikelet 1. Two glumes present (sub-equal). First glume 0.85–1 × the length of the second glume; 0.85–1 × spikelet length; 3.5–4.5 mm long; lanceolate; glabrous (or slightly scaberuouos on the midrib), or with trichomes (on midveins); margins glabrous; veins 1(–2); apex acuminate. Second glume as long or longer than the spikelet; almost as long as, or longer than, the lowest floret; 3.7–5.1 mm long. Second glume lanceolate. Second glume glabrous (or slightly scaberulous), or with trichomes; veins 1–3. Rachilla not pronounced between the florets; extending beyond the uppermost floret; internode 0–0.5 mm long; internode hairy (hairs 2.5–3.0 mm). Callus differentiated; hairs 2.5–3.5 mm long; hairs sub-equal to the floret. Lemma lanceolate; 2.8–3.8 mm long; rounded on the back (developing awn may look keel-like); surface dull (scaberulous); surface hairy, or glabrous (scaberous on midvien and lemma awn); surface with trichomes on and between the veins; veins 5 (4); apex acute; apex entire, or erose; apex glabrous (except callus); awned. Awn arising from the middle or below, or from just above the base. Awn 2–3.5 mm long. Palea well developed; 2.3–3.5 mm long; veins glabrous (minutely scaberuous). Flowers bilaterally symmetrical (zygomorphic); bisexual. Perianth represented by lodicules. Sepals modified (but not a pappus). Stamens 3. Anthers 1.8–2.4 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 3; syncarpous. Ovaries glabrous. Styles 2. Placentation basal. Ovules per ovary 1. Fruit sessile; dry; a caryopsis; 1.6–2 mm long; indehiscent. Seeds 1.

Chromosome information. 2n = 28, 42, 49, 56.

2n = 28,42, 49, and 56 (Tateoka, 1973);

2n (6x) = 42. Bowden (1960a); Löve and Löve (1965, 1966b, northeastern USA); Löve and Ritchie (1966, northern Canada); Taylor and Mulligan (1968, western Canada); Mitchell (1968, Alaska, 22 counts all over the area);

2n (7x) = 49. Mitchell (1968, southern Alaska);

2n (8x) = 56. Bowden (1960a); Taylor and Mulligan (1968, western Canada, two counts); Mitchell (1968, southern and central Alaska, four counts).

Greene (1980) considered this taxon to be part of an apomictic complex in which the pivotal sexual members are C. canescens and the tetraploid races of var. langsdorffii. In Asia it is represented by C. canadensis var. langsdorffii and in northern Europe by both var. langsdorffii and C. purpurea. In Japan, hybridisation between C. canadensis var. langsdorffii and C. sachalinensis has led to a group of apomictic populations distinct from both the European and American counterparts of the complex (Tateoka 1974).

Ploidy levels recorded 6x/7x/8x.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: along streams, river terraces, tundra, ridges, barrens; dry, moderately well-drained areas; gravel, sand; with low organic content, with high organic content.

North American distribution. This taxon has a Low Arctic distribution. A single record for the Arctic Archipelago was collected from Kimmirut, Baffin Island, Polunin 1223, July, 1936. CAN! It was considered C. canadensis var. scabra (Presl) Hitchc. by Polunin (1940). A second record was collected inland from Kimmirut, at the base of Mt. Joy, in 2002. The collection from Iqaluit that was mapped in Porsild (1957) as C. lapponica var. nearctica A.E. Porsild is based on a collection J.A. Calder, 2155, 25 July 1955. DAO 106575 and duplicate DAO 19019. The latter has several different annotations, including C. lapponica (Wahlenb.) Hartm, by P. Ls-M Revision de l'instutut Agricole d'Oka 1951, C. neglecta (Ehrh) C.H. and S.B. Boivin, 1965, and C. stricta (Timm) Koeler C.W. Greene 1980. Some of the confusion reflected in the annotations comes about because the inflorescences are pre-anthesis, and in most spikelets there is no evidence of an awn. The top spikelet on one of the inflorescences in collection DAO 106575 is opening and reveals a long callus and a geniculate awn. On the basis of this the J.A. Calder 2155 Iqaluit collection is assigned to Calamagrostis canadensis (Michx.) P. Beauv. subsp. langsdorffii (Link) Hultén. Aiken searched for this plant in Iqaluit since 1986. In 2002 she found evidence of previous season's straw of Calamagrostis between the bank of the Sylvia Grinnell River and the end of the runway. From the diary of J.A. Calder it is known that he often rode in the water truck to this location when he was botanising in 1948. Alaska, Yukon, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Arctic islands: Baffin (as well as Digges Island and Melville Peninsula).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar, or circumboreal (gap in NW Europe). Kanin–Pechora, Polar Ural – Novaya Zemlya, Yamal–Gydan, Taimyr – Severnaya Zemlya, Anabar–Olenyok, Kharaulakh, Yana–Kolyma, West Chukotka, South Chukotka, East Chukotka, West Alaska, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay, West Greenland, East Greenland.

General notes. This taxon is characterised by having a long stem with 4–5 exposed nodes, leaves that are often flat and very scabrous on the abaxial surface. A single specimen was collected on Baffin Island beside the Soper River in 2002. The species occurs in southern Greenland and is not unexpected on Baffin Island

Greene (1980) considered that this taxon, which he recognised as a variety, differs from var. canadensis in having firm glumes that are 4–6 mm long, rarely hyaline, strongly scabrous on the back, often short-ciliate on the keel.

The name is based on Arundo langsdorfii Link 1821. When he transferred the name to Calamagrostis in 1824, Trinius corrected Link's orthographic error; Link named the species after a Langsdorff, not Langsdorf: thus the name is Calamagrostis langsdorffii (Link) Trin. (Greene, personal communication, 1999). Hultén, who had broad experience on both sides of the Bering Straits, treated langsdorffii as C. canadensis subsp. langsdorffii (Link) Hultén (1942).

Greene indicated that in Calamagrostis he used subspecies only when there seemed to be clear cytological and/or morphological distinctions between entities, such as the primarily 2n = 28 sexual C. stricta subsp. stricta and the 2n = 42–114+ polyploid apomictic complex he named C. stricta subsp. inexpansa. In the case of C. canadensis Greene chose to recognise varieties because the taxa (such as var. langsdorffii) seems to intergrade with var. canadensis in morphology, chromosome number, and reproductive mode. He noted that with more experimental work, these entities may show enough distinctions to be treated as distinct subspecies as opposed to varieties (personal communication, Greene, 1999).

It was the opinion of Greene (when writing the Flora of North America treatment of this genus, Marr et al. 2007) that if one accepts that C. purpurea and C. canadensis are synonymous, then C. canadensis (Michx.) Beauv. 1812 (based on Arundo canadensis Michx. 1803) has priority over C. purpurea (Trin.) Trin. 1824 (based on Arundo purpurea Trin. 1821). Greene considered C. canadensis in North America and C. purpurea in northern Eurasia to be manifestations of the same circumpolar species/agamic complex, but that tradition has kept the names separate in regional floras.

Elven et al. (2003) agreed that C. purpurea is probably a basal sexual species of the aggregate. Calamagrostis canescens (Weber) Roth 1789 (based on Arundo canescens Weber 1780) is another sexual tetraploid. If the entire aggregate is merged, then it also has to include C. canescens, and then this name would have priority before C. canadensis. It is therefore best to keep the high-polyploid agamosperms separate, in which case the name C. canadensis can be used for the Canadian plants. It is also justified to keep basal sexuals and derived and assumed allopolyploid agamics as separate species.

Elven et al. (2003) noted that Löve and Löve (1975) separated 'species' in this aggregate purely on basis of ploidy levels. They considered C. canescens and C. angustifolia (subsp. tenuis) as tetraploids, C. canadensis as hexaploid, and C. phragmitoides and C. langsdorffii as octoploids. They did not include in their Atlas the multitude of deviating numbers reported for these taxa, and they sorted numbers among taxa without much consideration of the names given by the original reporters (Tateoka 1973, Mitchell 1968, and Greene 1984).

Elven et al. (2003) discussed the Calamagrostis canadensis aggregate (C. canadensis s.l., C. phragmitoides, C. tenuis) and noted that this aggregate expresses many of the same traits as the C. purpurascens aggregate and C. neglecta s.l., i.e., the presence of morphologically more or less distinguishable sexual tetraploids and less well-defined apomictic high-ploids. There are strong indications that the apomicts are alloploids.

Illustrations. • Habitat. Foreground "straw". Previous season's remains of this species forming a stand. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Soper River, near Mt. Joy. Aiken and Iles 02–041. CAN. • Close-up of plant. New season's growth at the base of a plant. Branching in previous season's straw helps confirm identification as genus Calamagrostis. Aiken and Iles 02–041. CAN. • Drawing. Plants with leaves distributed along the culms, relatively large ligules, and spreading paniculate inflorescences. Drawing from Porsild (1957). • 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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