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

Festuca edlundiae S. Aiken, Consaul and Lefkovitch

Poaceae, Grass family.

Published in Syst. Bot. 20(3). 381. 1995.

Type: Canada. Nunavut: Bathurst Island, Polar Bear Pass, 75°43'N, 98°12'W, marine worked carbonate ridge, on the north side of a broad valley west of the Goodsir River, 11 Aug. 1985, S.G. Aiken 3949. Holotype: CAN 502531! Isotype: DAO 460223!.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 2.5–10(–14) cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose. Only fibrous roots present. Ground level or underground stems absent. Aerial stems decumbent (previous season's flowering culms often forming a ring of straw around the plant). Leaves mainly basal; alternate; marcescent. Prophylls 5 mm long; with smooth veins; lacking pronounced keels. Petioles absent. Sheaths present; with the margins fused only in the lower part; glabrous (or appearing glabrous as small trichomes are appressed to the surface when plants grow in polar desert conditions); sheath collars present. Ligules present; 0.2–0.5 mm long; membranous; hairy (ciliate at the apex); transversely oblong. Ligule apices truncate (higher on sides than in the middle); entire, or cleft. Leaves grass-like. Blades 15–90 mm long (in tufts 30–90 mm tall; growing to 10 cm long in the greenhouse), 0.8–1.1 mm wide (when folded), spreading (to almost prostrate), folded in bud (with margins incurved), linear, with sheath auricles (represented by distinct, erect swellings), folded, veins parallel, midvein similar in size to other veins in the leaf. Blade adaxial surface hairy (with a few hairs). Blade abaxial surface glabrous or scabrous (glabrous or with minute, often appressed trichomes on the abaxial surface).

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems two or more per plant. Flowering stems circular or oval in cross section. Flowering stems with leaves; culm nodes not exposed. Flag leaf sheaths inflated (somewhat, blades often more than 1 cm long, 0.3–1.25 cm long, and often fully expanded before the inflorescence emerges from the sheath). Inflorescences paniculate (sometimes reduced and spike-like); dense; linear; 1.5–3.5 cm long; 8–15 mm wide. Inflorescences main axis glabrous, or scabrous (sparsely). Number of inflorescence branches at lowest node 1, or 2. Inflorescence primary branches 0.4–0.7 mm long; scabrous; with appressed secondary branches. Spikelets disarticulating above the glumes; lanceolate; 4.5–8.5 mm long; 3–4 mm wide. Florets per spikelet 2–6. Two glumes present. First glume 0.58–0.89 × the length of the second glume; 0.26–0.51 × spikelet length; 1.8–3.5 mm long (0.2–0.6 mm wide); lanceolate; glabrous; margins glabrous; veins 1; apex acuminate. Second glume 0.4–0.9 × as long as the spikelet; shorter than the lowest floret; 2.9–4.3 mm long (0.4–0.9 mm wide). Second glume ovate. Second glume glabrous; veins (1–)3. Rachilla not pronounced between the florets; extending beyond the uppermost floret; internode 0.9–1.1 mm long; internode hairy (sparsely). Lemma lanceolate; 3.6–5.2 mm long; rounded on the back; surface dull; surface sparsely scabrous; surface with trichomes on and between the veins (upper portion only); veins 5; apex acuminate; apex entire; apex ciliate; awned. Awn arising from the tip. Awn 1.1–2.9 mm long. Palea well developed; 3.8–5.5 mm long; veins scabrous (towards the apex). Flowers bilaterally symmetrical (zygomorphic). Perianth represented by lodicules. Stamens 3. Anthers splitting longitudinally. Anthers 0.6–1.1 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 3; syncarpous. Ovaries glabrous. Styles 2. Placentation basal. Ovules per ovary 1. Fruit sessile; dry; a caryopsis (apex glabrous); indehiscent. Seeds 1.

Chromosome information. 2n (4x) = 28. Type specimen counted by K.C. Armstrong, Agriculture Canada, 1986.

Flovik (1938, Svalbard, as F. brachyphylla); Sokolovskaya and Probatova, in Tzvelev (1976, northeastern Asia, as F. hyperborea); Engelskjøn (1979, Svalbard, as F. hyperborea); Aiken and Fedak (1992, northern Canada, as F. brachyphylla); Aiken et al. (1995b, Canada); Guldahl (1999, Svalbard); Guldahl et al. (2001, Svalbard, four sites).

Ploidy levels recorded 4x.

Taxon as an environmental indicator. The plants of this taxon are indicative of alkaline environments.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: river terraces, tundra (e.g., Dryas-Salix barrens; also a pioneer plant on disturbed habitats), slopes; imperfectly drained moist areas, seepage slopes, dry, moderately well-drained areas; gravel, sand, silt (such as eroding marine silt), clay; calcareous. Found on fine calcareous soils of polar deserts in the Queen Elizabeth Islands. Also, common on Svalbard (Fjelheim 1999 and Guldahl 1999), with limited records from Russia.

North American distribution. Alaska, Northwest Territories Islands, Nunavut Islands (It was discovered in northern Alaska (Brooks Range) in 2002 (Elven, personal communication).). Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago widespread. Uncommon. Arctic. Arctic islands: Devon, Ellesmere, Parry islands (Bathurst, Little Cornwallis, Melville), Cornwallis, Banks, Prince of Wales (Amund, Ellef Ringnes, and Stefansson).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Amphi-Atlantic, or amphi-Beringian, or North American. Svalbard – Franz Joseph Land, Yana–Kolyma (?), West Chukotka, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay, Ellesmere Land – Peary Land, West Greenland, East Greenland.

General notes. First discovered by B. May in isozyme studies reported by Aiken et al. (1994, 1995b). The Festuca plants had been collected on Bathurst Island and were a mixture of this taxon and F. hyperborea. The two species differ in having distinct isozyme profiles for at least five isozymes, and in the size and shape of the flag leaves, the size of spikelets, and the shape of the upper glumes. Plants with the isozyme profiles of F. edlundiae were collected from eight sites on five of the Queen Elizabeth Islands in 1992, and from Ellesmere Island in 1993. All sites are highly calcareous with fine-grained mineral soils. A herbarium study found specimens from 30 other locations including sites in northern Greenland and the former U.S.S.R. Morphological and isozyme characteristics were used to distinguish F. edlundiae from F. baffinensis, F. brachyphylla, and F. hyperborea. The specific epithet honours Dr. S.A. Edlund for her extensive and intensive contributions to Arctic field work and her studies of the vegetation in the Arctic Archipelago over many years (Aiken et al. 1995b).

Fjellheim et al. (2001) evaluated morphological and RAPD DNA variation in members of the Festuca brachyphylla complex occurring on Svalbard and observed 12 RAPD phenotypes in F. edlundiae.

Guldahl et al. (2001) studied the Festuca brachyphylla complex in Svalbard, considering chromosome counts, enzymatic, and ecological variation. In a revision of herbarium material she found that F. edlundiae was the most widely distributed species.

Illustrations. • Habitat: Cornwallis Island. A cespitose single clump of a plant 12–15 cm in diameter with dark purple inflorescences. Nunavut, Cornwallis Island, Resolute Bay, Satellite Hill. Aiken 92–051. CAN. Photograph by H. Gibbins. Scale bar in cm. • Close-up of inflorescence and flag leaf. The long flag leaf and relatively longer glumes distinguish F. edlundiae from F. hyperborea. Norway, Svalbard, Sassen. July, 1997. Photograph by R. Elven. • Type specimen. Plants collected near the research station in a nitrophilous site. Plants from this site had 2n=28. Nunavut, Bathurst Island, Polar Bear Pass. 11 August, 1985. Aiken 3949. (Holotype: CAN). • Drawing habit. Drawing of plant habit of Festuca edlundiae by S. Laurie-Bourque. Reproduced from Syst. Bot. 20: 383, with permission of the artist. Scale bar 1 cm. • Drawing spikelet. Drawing of spikelet of Festuca edlundiae by S. Laurie-Bourque. Note the blade of the flag leaf is well-developed before the spikelet is at anthesis. Reproduced from Syst. Bot. 20: 383, with permission of the artist. Scale bar is 1 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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