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

Hierochloë alpina (Swartz) Roem. and Schult. subsp. alpina

English: Alpine sweet grass,

French: Hierochloé alpine,

Inuktitut: Iviit, ivisuka, ivitsuskaka, ivikutaat.

Poaceae, Grass family.

Published in Syst. Veg. 2: 515. 1817.

Type: Northern Sweden: "Från fjället Kärpile i Torneå Lappmark", leg. Liljeblad, selected by Weimarck, Bot. Not. 124: 157. 1971. Lectotype: S Herb. Swartzii.

Schouten and Veldkamp (1985) cited as holotype a collection from Sweden: Lapland, Willdenow 18699 (B). den: Lapland, Willdenow 18699. Holotype: B.

Synonymy. Holcus alpinus Swartz, in Willd., Sp. Pl. 4: 937. 1806.

Anthoxanthum monticolum (Bigelow) Veldkamp, in Schouten and Veldkamp subsp. alpinum (Sw. ex Willd.) Soreng.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 7–40 cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose (or loosely so). Only fibrous roots present. Ground level or underground stems horizontal; rhizomatous (culms are often pulled out of the tundra with much of the base of the plant and the rhizomes left behind); compact (and short); 2 mm wide (short). Ground level or underground stems scales present; surfaces striate; 10–20 mm long. Aerial stems erect. Leaves mainly basal; alternate; marcescent. Petioles absent. Sheaths present; persisting (distinctly purple); with the margins fused only in the lower part; glabrous, or with trichomes; scabrous (short); sheath collars present. Ligules present; 0.2–1 mm long; a fringed membrane (or a fringe of hairs); hairy (sometimes with long ciliate hairs on the adaxial surface near the apex); ovate-oblong. Ligule apices truncate; erose to lacerate. Leaves grass-like. Blades 10–120 mm long, (0.7–)1.4–3.4 mm wide (0.7 mm when rolled; sometimes with a strong and pleasant coumarin smell when crushed.), appressed to the stem or spreading, rolled in bud, linear, flat or involute, veins parallel, midvein conspicuously larger than the lateral veins (with a ridge of sclerenchyma opposite the midvein). Blade adaxial surface hairy (sparsely puberulent). Blade abaxial surface glabrous.

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 not inflated. Inflorescences paniculate; dense, or diffuse; ovate, or pyramidal; 1.5–3 cm long; 12–20 mm wide. Inflorescences main axis glabrous. Number of inflorescence branches at lowest node 1–2. Inflorescence primary branches 2.4–12 mm long; glabrous; with spreading secondary branches. Spikelets disarticulating above the glumes; ovate, or obovate; 5–7.2 mm long; 2.5–6 mm wide. Florets per spikelet 3 (with 2 lower staminate florets, and a terminal hermaphrodite floret). Two glumes present (shiny, cuneate). First glume 0.9–0.95 × the length of the second glume; 0.9–0.95 × spikelet length; 4.8–6.7 mm long; ovate; glabrous; margins glabrous; veins 1–3; apex acute. Second glume as long or longer than the spikelet; almost as long as, or longer than, the lowest floret; 5–7 mm long. Second glume ovate. Second glume glabrous (shiny); veins 1–3. Rachilla not pronounced between the florets; terminating in a well-formed floret; internode 0.9–1.1 mm long; internode glabrous. Lemma ovate (hermaphrodite floret), or lanceolate (staminate florets); 3.6–4 mm long; keeled; surface dull; surface hairy; surface with trichomes on and between the veins (staminate lemmas hairy over entire surface, hermaphrodite lemmas with a tuft of long hairs near apex, elsewhere glabrous); veins 3; apex acute; apex entire; apex ciliate; awned. Awn arising from below the apex but above the middle (staminate florets). Awn 0.5–1.5 mm long. Palea well developed; 3.3–4.4 mm long; veins hairy (at apex). Flowers bilaterally symmetrical (zygomorphic); bisexual. Perianth represented by lodicules. Sepals modified (but not a pappus). Stamens 3. Anthers 1.5–2.7 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 3; syncarpous. Ovaries glabrous. Styles 2. Placentation basal. Ovules per ovary 1. Fruit sessile; dry; a caryopsis; 2.8–3 mm long; indehiscent. Seeds 1.

Chromosome information. 2n = 56, 64, 68, 71, 72, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78.

This taxon is facultatively apomictic.

2n (8x) = 56. Flovik (1938, 1940, Svalbard); Sørensen, in Porsild (1955, Greenland); Jørgensen et al. (1958, Greenland); Sokolovskaya (1960b, northeastern Asia); Sokolovskaya (1963, northeastern Asia, Kamtch, 1965); Sokolovskaya and Strelkova (1960); Löve and Ritchie (1966, northern Canada); Hedberg (1967, northern Canada); Knaben and Engelskjøn (1967, northern Norway); Zhukova (1967a, northeastern Asia); Johnson and Packer (1968, northwestern Alaska); Weimarck (1970b, 1971, Greenland, northern Siberia); Packer and McPherson (1974, northern Alaska); Krogulevich (1976, northern Siberia); Sokolovskaya and Probatova (1976, northeastern Asia); Zhukova and Petrovsky (1976, western Chukotka); Zhukova et al. (1977, northeastern Asia); Dawe and Murray in Löve (1979, Alaska); Löve (1981b, central Canada); Bowden (1960b, Baffin and Southhampton Islands and Whiteface Mountain, New York);

2n (about 9x) =64. Weimarck (1971, 1976);

2n = 66. Weimarck (1970a, 1970b, 1971, northern Finland, 3 counts);

2n = 68. Weimarck (1971, 1976);

2n = 71. Weimarck (1971, 1976);

2n = 72. Weimarck (1971, northern Norway, 1976);

2n = 74–78. Weimarck (1971, 1976).

Ploidy levels recorded 8x-10x.

Taxon as an environmental indicator. It is indicative of vegetation climax arctic tundra that is usually completely stabilised and with 90–100% ground cover. This is one of the few grasses that can compete in such tundras where willows, arctic birch, and heath species are usually dominant.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: hummocks, along streams, river terraces, tundra (and dwarf shrub or Luzula-Salix barrens), slopes, ridges; dry, moderately well-drained areas; rocks (e.g., granite, talus), gravel, sand, clay; acidic (weakly acidic to neutral). Occurring sporadically on well-drained, weakly acidic to neutral sand, gravel, and rocky barrens. Often the only grass in dense Low Arctic tundra.

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago widespread. Uncommon. Arctic, alpine. Arctic islands: Baffin, Devon, Ellesmere, Axel Heiberg, Parry islands (Melville), Banks, Victoria, Somerset, Southampton, Coats (Digges and Vansittart Islands and Boothia Peninsula).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar, or circumboreal. Northern Fennoscandian, Kanin–Pechora, Svalbard – Franz Joseph Land, Polar Ural – Novaya Zemlya, Yamal–Gydan, Taimyr – Severnaya Zemlya, Anabar–Olenyok, Kharaulakh, Yana–Kolyma, West Chukotka, Wrangel Island, South Chukotka, East Chukotka, West Alaska, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay, Ellesmere Land – Peary Land, West Greenland, East Greenland.

General notes. Weimark (1971) distinguished two subspecies: (a) subsp. alpina, recognised by these characters: the awn of the upper staminate floret inserted (0.9-)1.3–2.1(-2.5) mm above the lemma base, usually twisted at base (and geniculate), from (b) subsp. orthantha, where the awn of the upper male floret is inserted (2.2-)2.6–4.0(-4.5) mm above the lemma base, and is straight. Subspecies orthantha has been recorded from Alaska, Greenland, Northern Labrador, and Quebec, but not from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

Veldkamp (in Schouten and Veldcamp 1985) aligned many Hierochloë taxa with the genus Anthoxanthum, and this subspecies became A. monticolum subsp. alpinum. As this CD was going to press, this combination was taken up by Allred and Barkworth (2007) in Flora of North America.

Illustrations. • Habitat. Green plant at the marker, a cespitose clump 18 cm high, growing in the unsubmerged soils of a rocky freshwater stream bed. This species is characteristic of dry tundra. Nunavut, Axel Heiberg Island, 79°24'N, 90°48'W. 1 August, 1999. L.L. Consaul 2274 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Habitat: Dorset. Plants near the marker and forming isolated tussocks on the gravelly tundra. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Cape Dorset. 6 August, 2005. Aiken. No voucher. • Close-up of plant. Plants with inflorescences at anthesis. Spikelets dark purple at the base and pale at the apex from the exposed anthers and stigmas. Nunavut, Axel Heiberg Island, Expedition Fiord. 1 August, 1999. L.L. Consaul 2274 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Close-up of inflorescence. Spikelets at anthesis with white fluffy stigmas from the terminal hermaphrodite floret, and conspicuous glumes that have red and green colouration. Awns and pale yellow anthers associated with the two lower staminate flowers. Nunavut, Axel Heiberg Island, Expedition Fiord. 1 August, 1999. L.L. Consaul 2274 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Paratype specimen Hierochloë alpina subsp. orthantha. It has been suggested that subsp. orthantha occurs in the Canadian Arctic, but we have not been able to confirm this. U.S.A., New York, Whiteface Mountain. 1917. A.S. Hitchcock 438. (Paratype: DAO). • Close-up of plant. Robust plant that appears cespitose and possibly without rhizomes. Quebec, Kangiqsujuak. 10 August, 1994. J. Cayouette. DAO. • 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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