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 pauciflora R. Br.

English: Few flowered arctic holy grass,

French: Hierochloé pauciflore,

Inuktitut: Iviit, ivisuka, ivitsuskaka.

Poaceae, Grass family.

Published in Chlor. Melvill. 35. 1823.

Type: Canada. Melville Island, 1819–1820, Mr. Beverley, on W.E. Parry's first voyage. Holotype: BM!.

Synonymy. Anthoxanthum arcticum Veldkamp, in Schouten and Veldkamp, Blumea 30: 349. 1985.

Hierochloë pauciflora R.Br. f. setigera E. Lepage, Nat. Can. 81: 256. 1954. Type: Canada. Ontario: Cape Henrietta, 10 Aug. 1953, A. Dutilly and E. Lepage 31124. Holotype: CAN!.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 5–26 cm high; perennial herbs. Ground level or underground stems horizontal; rhizomatous; elongate, or compact; 0.3–1 mm wide. Ground level or underground stems scales present; surfaces smooth; 10–20 mm long; glabrous. Aerial stems erect (appearing tiny and delicate). Leaves present; distributed along the stems; alternate; marcescent. Petioles absent. Sheaths present; with the margins fused only in the lower part; glabrous; sheath collars present. Ligules present; 0.4–1.3 mm long; membranous (on uppermost leaves or underdeveloped leaf blades; a fringed membrane on lower leaf blades); glabrous, or hairy; ovate-oblong. Ligule apices obtuse; entire. Leaves grass-like. Blades 20–55 mm long, 0.7–2 mm wide (rolled width), appressed to the stem or spreading, rolled in bud, linear, involute (but easily twisting to appear conduplicate in a wet cross section), veins parallel, midvein similar in size to other veins in the leaf. Blade adaxial surface hairy. 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 inflated. Inflorescences paniculate (sometimes reduced and spike-like); dense (compact); linear; 1–3 cm long; 3–5 mm wide. Inflorescences main axis glabrous. Number of inflorescence branches at lowest node 1. Inflorescence primary branches 0.5–12 mm long; glabrous; with appressed secondary branches. Spikelets disarticulating above the glumes; ovate, or obovate; 3.5–6 mm long; 2–4 mm wide. Florets per spikelet 3 (with 2 lower staminate florets, and a terminal hermaphrodite floret). Two glumes present (glumes shiny, cuneate.). First glume 0.8–1 × the length of the second glume; 0.75–0.85 × spikelet length; 2.9–4.6 mm long; lanceolate; glabrous; margins glabrous; veins 1; apex acute. Second glume as long or longer than the spikelet; almost as long as, or longer than, the lowest floret; 3.5–4.7 mm long. Second glume lanceolate, or ovate. Second glume glabrous; veins 3. Rachilla not pronounced between the florets; terminating in a well-formed floret; internode 0.9–1.1 mm long; internode glabrous. Callus differentiated, or not differentiated (sometimes there are a few sparse callus hairs at base of staminate florets); hairs shorter than the floret. Lemma lanceolate; 2.9–4.4 mm long; rounded on the back; surface dull; surface hairy (at apex); surface with trichomes on and between the veins; veins 3–6; apex acute; apex entire; apex ciliate (very sparsely); awnless (or awns on staminate florets to 1 mm long). Palea well developed; 2.4–3.2 mm long; veins hairy. Flowers bilaterally symmetrical (zygomorphic). Perianth represented by lodicules. Sepals modified (but not a pappus). Stamens 3. Anthers 1.5–3 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 3; syncarpous. Ovaries glabrous. Styles 2. Placentation basal. Ovules per ovary 1. Fruit sessile; dry; a caryopsis; 2.5 mm long; indehiscent. Seeds 1.

Chromosome information. 2n (4x) = 28. Zhukova (1967a, northeastern Asia); Johnson and Packer (1968, northwestern Alaska); Zhukova et al. (1973, 1977, northeastern Asia); Packer and McPherson (1974, northern Alaska); Krogulevich (1976a, northern Siberia); Löve (1981b, northern Canada).

Ploidy levels recorded 4x.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: wet meadows, hummocks, around the margins of ponds, marshes, river terraces, tundra, ridges; imperfectly drained moist areas, seepage slopes; rocks, sand, silt, till, moss; peat (sometimes in Sphagnum); calcareous (but not necessarily so). Growing on wet peaty soils, on fluvial deltas and lowlands. When it is present in the High Arctic it occurs in areas underlain by carbonates, and it is exclusively rooted in thick, mossy, mats particularly of Drepanocladus species. In the Low Arctic, it occurs with Sphagnum and in wet tundra. This tiny, delicate grass is easily outcompeted by other species. It often occurs in wet peaty soils with vegetation cover usually less than 15 cm high.

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago widespread. Uncommon (EASILY OVERLOOKED). High Arctic. Arctic islands: Baffin, Devon, Ellesmere, Parry islands (Bathurst, Melville, Prince Patrick), Banks, Victoria, Somerset, King William, Southampton, Coats (Stefansson, Prince Charles and Melville Peninsula).

Northern hemisphere distribution. North American, or Siberian (not on Greenland or in Scandinavia). 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.

General notes. This tiny grass often occurs as single plants and is easily overlooked.

As this CD was going to press, this species was accepted as Anthoxanthum arcticum Veldkamp by Allred and Barkworth (2007) in Flora of North America.

Illustrations. • Habitat. Small purplish and white spike-like inflorescences growing among other grasses and willow in a disturbed area. Nunavut, Victoria Island, Cambridge Bay. 20 July, 1997. L.L. Consaul 1101 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Habitat. Isolated plant in a cotton grass (Eriophorum angustifolium) meadow. N.W.T., Banks Island, Aulavik National Park. July, 1999. Aiken 99–045. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Close-up of young inflorescence. Young inflorescence. The uppermost hermaphodite floret in each spikelet developing white feathery stigmas and preanthesis purple anthers. N.W.T., Banks Island, Aulavik National Park. July, 1999. Aiken 99–045. CAN. • Close-up of inflorescence. Mature inflorescence. Uppermost spikelets have two stigmas exposed but no anthers exposed. Lowermost spikelets have withered stigmas exposed and anthers on long filaments. Nunavut, Victoria Island, Cambridge Bay. L.L. Consaul 1101 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Holotype specimen. Plants 10–15 cm tall, with single culms and inflorescences with fewer than 10 spikelets. Canada, Melville Island. 1819–1820. Mr. Beverly on W.E. Parry's first voyage. (Holotype: BM). • Holotype, f. setigera. HierochloŽ pauciflora f. setigera. Ontario, James Bay, Cape Henrietta Maria. 1953. A. Dutilly and E. Lepage 31124. (Holotype: 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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