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

Puccinellia andersonii Swallen

English: Anderson's alkali grass,

French: Puccinellie d'Anderson

Inuktitut: Iviit, ivisuka, ivitsuskaka.

Poaceae, Grass family.

Published in J. Wash. Acad. Sci. 34: 21. 1944.

Type: United States. Alaska: Point Lay, in very wet soil, 5 Aug. 1938, J. P. Anderson 4399a. Holotype: US ex NA. Isotype: CAN!.

Synonymy. Phippsia andersonii (Swallen) A. Löve and D. Löve, Bot. Not. 128: 498. 1975 [1976].

Vegetative morphology. Plants 10–25 cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose. Only fibrous roots present. Ground level or underground stems absent. Aerial stems decumbent. Leaves mainly basal; alternate; marcescent. Prophylls 10–15 mm long; with smooth veins; lacking pronounced keels. Petioles absent. Sheaths present; with the margins fused only in the lower part; glabrous; sheath collars present. Ligules present; 1–2.8 mm long; membranous; glabrous; ovate-oblong, or transversely oblong. Ligule apices acute, or obtuse, or truncate; entire. Leaves grass-like. Blades 35–105 mm long, 0.5–1 mm wide (when rolled), appressed to the stem or spreading, rolled in bud, linear, without auricles (ligules decurrent), flat (rarely) or involute, veins parallel, midvein similar in size to other veins in the leaf. Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous.

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems two or more per plant. Flowering stems circular or oval in cross section. Flowering stems culm nodes not exposed (usually), or becoming exposed; number visible 0–1. Flag leaf sheaths inflated, or not inflated (the uppermost leaf sheath elongated and somewhat inflated). Inflorescences paniculate; dense, or diffuse; lanceolate, or ovate, or pyramidal (less than one quarter of the inflorescence exserted from the uppermost leaf sheath); (3.5–)5–8 cm long; (5–)10–40 mm wide. Inflorescences main axis glabrous. Number of inflorescence branches at lowest node 2–3. Inflorescence primary branches 15–35 mm long; glabrous, or scabrous; with appressed secondary branches, or with spreading secondary branches (without spikelets on their lower half). Spikelets disarticulating above the glumes; lanceolate, or ovate, or oblanceolate (commonly); (5–)7–9(–9.5) mm long; 1.5–2 mm wide (described as having an "opaque, fatty lustre", Swallen 1944). Florets per spikelet 4–5(–7). Two glumes present. First glume 0.5–0.81 × the length of the second glume; 0.15–0.33 × spikelet length; 1–2 mm long; lanceolate; glabrous; margins scabrous (appearing minutely fringed under high magnification); veins 1; apex acute. Second glume 0.4 × as long as the spikelet or less; shorter than the lowest floret; 2–3 mm long. Second glume ovate. Second glume glabrous, or with trichomes (appearing minutely fringed under high magnification); margins scabrous; veins 3. Rachilla not pronounced between the florets; extending beyond the uppermost floret; internode 0.8–1.4 mm long; internode 0.05–0.125 mm wide; internode glabrous, or hairy (very sparsely). Callus differentiated (as very short trichomes), or not differentiated (absent on florets towards the top of the spikelet); hairs (0–)0.2–0.3 mm long; hairs shorter than the floret. Lemma ovate; 3–4.5 mm long; rounded on the back; surface dull; surface glabrous (mostly, but sometimes with a few sparse hairs towards the base in the lower florets, often without such hairs on the lemmas of the upper florets); veins 5; apex acute, or rounded; apex erose (entire Sørensen (1953), but observed to be erose in Canadian specimens annotated by him); apex glabrous (rarely), or scabrous (usually fringed with blunt trichomes ~25 micrometres in length). Length of trichomes less than 25 um, or more than 25 um (lemma usually fringed with blunt trichomes about 25 micrometers in length). Lemma awnless. Palea well developed; 2.7–3.9 mm long; veins glabrous, or scabrous (a few scabrous hairs near the tip). Flowers bilaterally symmetrical (zygomorphic); bisexual. Perianth represented by lodicules. Stamens 3. Anthers 0.8–1.2 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 3; syncarpous. Styles 2. Placentation basal. Ovules per ovary 1. Fruit sessile; dry; a caryopsis; 1.8–2.2 mm long; indehiscent. Seeds 1.

Chromosome information. 2n = 56.

2n (8x) = 56. Holmen (1952, Greenland).

Ploidy levels recorded 8x.

Taxon as an environmental indicator. Puccinellia andersonii can be a good indicator of the high tide line reached by spring tides. It is halophytic and generally littoral.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: river terraces, seashores; imperfectly drained moist areas, moderately well-drained areas; sand, silt, clay; with low organic content; halophytic. Occurring on coastal flats behind boulder beaches, in sand, gravel, or clays. Sørensen (1953) notes that it "seems to be absent from the Old World Arctic", where it is replaced by P. fragiliflora. Puccinellia andersonii is found along the coast just near the tide line, or on otherwise barren reworked marine sediments of eroded flood plains and along fiords, commonly with, or sometimes as, the only species present, with P. angustata.

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited. Uncommon. High Arctic. Arctic islands: Baffin, Devon, Ellesmere, Axel Heiberg, Parry islands (Loughead, Melville), Banks, Victoria.

Northern hemisphere distribution. North American. West Alaska, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada, Ellesmere Land – Peary Land, West Greenland, East Greenland.

General notes. Swallen (1944) said that this is a rather distinct species in which the long decumbent base, short, stiffly spreading panicle branches, and acute, more or less toothed lemmas, are characteristic. He considered that close relationships with other arctic species were not evident.

Consaul and Gillespie (2001) found some confusion with the Canadian isotype specimen of P. andersonii. Swallen (1944) reported in his protologue discussion of P. andersonii that the original collection by Anderson was composed of two species: P. andersonii, which became sheet 4399a and the type, and P. paupercula (= P. langeana), which became sheet 4399b. During the separation of the two species some specimens of P. langeana were apparently transferred to the Canada isotype, 4399a. Consaul and Gillespie annotated the P. andersonii isotype specimens as 4399a-1, and the P. langeana specimens as 4399a-2. The same problem does not occur with the holotype (US ex NA). Consaul and Gillespie (2001) found that the isotype (i.e., 4399a-1, P. andersonii) and two other P. andersonii specimens were smaller and less hairy than all the other collections of P. andersonii examined in the PCoA, and clustered with P. langeana in cluster analyses the former three specimens fell between the rest of the P. andersonii specimens and P. langeana. This has led to the question of whether there are two taxa represented by the P. andersonii specimens analysed, and this is part of a study being undertaken by Consaul (2002–2006).

Sørensen (1953) described the lemma as entire, but in several Canadian specimens annotated by him, we observed the lemmas are erose. When described, Puccinellia andersonii was known only from the type locality, Pt. Lay, Arctic central Alaska. Sørensen (1953) indicated that it occurs over northern Greenland [southward to about 70°N on the west coast and to about 73°N on the east coast] and suggested that it had previously been mistaken for Puccinellia angustata, or in some cases for Puccinellia (Colpodium) vahlianum. He noted that while the species grow in similar habitats, no direct connection between P. andersonii and P. angustata seemed to exist. Consaul and Gillespie (2001) had made observations in 1997–1999 in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and confirmed that there P. andersonii and P. angustata do grow in similar habitats and do appear different. When plants of each species were growing near each other they were at similar stages of phenology. These authors confirmed the observation of Grulke and Bliss (1988) that like P. vaginata the inflorescences remain prostrate when sexually mature. They even suspected that occasionally P. angustata was collected preferentially to P. andersonii because in the latter the whole plant was often prostrate, looking like a "less healthy" plant. Although this is a relatively distinct taxon, specimens are found that have characteristics of P. langeana, if very glabrous, and P. vaginata if more hairy (Consaul and Gillespie 2001).

Although never previously considered to be closely related, when plants of P. andersonii and P. vaginata were growing together they were not always easy to distinguish on the character lemmas "erose-ciliolate" (Sørensen 1953). Consaul and Gillespie (2001) found that these two taxa, as currently recognised, overlap morphologically. Some specimens considered to be P. andersonii, since the apices of the lemmas and glumes are erose and acute, had unusually long trichomes on the lemma and glume margins, and in this they approach P. vaginata. Other specimens were considered intermediate between P. andersonii and P. vaginata in the anther lengths, suggested as distinct in Porsild (1964) [P. vaginata, 0.6–0.8 mm long: P. andersonii, 0.8–1.0 mm long].

Illustrations. • Habitat. Pebble-sand bank on south shore of MacDonald River Delta. Laurie Consaul is photographing the isolated tussocks. Nunavut, Ellesmere Island, Tanquary Camp, 81°24'N, 76°52'W. 21 July, 1999. L.L. Consaul 2157 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Close-up of plant. Left, Puccinellia angustata with more erect inflorescences. Right, P. andersonii with semi-prostrate inflorescences. Nunavut, Axel Heiberg Island, Expedition Fiord, McGill University field camp, Sulfur Springs, 79°24'N, 90°48'W. 2 August, 1999. L.L. Consaul 2298 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Close-up of plant. Isolated pre-anthesis plants with prostrate inflorescences. Nunavut, Ellesmere Island, Eureka, Blacktop Creek valley, 80°00'N, 85°57'W. 3 August, 1999. L.L. Consaul 2278, L.J. Gillespie and R.J. Soreng. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Close-up of plant. Plants, growing on a pebble-sand bank on south shore of the MacDonald River Delta, beginning to flower with the central culms becoming erect. Nunavut, Ellesmere Island, Tanquary Camp, 81°24'N, 76°52'W. 21 July, 1999. L.L. Consaul 2153 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Close-up of inflorescence. Pre-anthesis inflorescences with uniform purplish spikelets. Note the lower inflorescence branches are typically in pairs in this species. Glumes are much less than half the length of the spikelet. Nunavut, Ellesmere Island, Eureka, Blacktop Creek valley, 80°00'N, 85°57'W. 3 August, 1999. L.L. Consaul 2278, L.J. Gillespie and R.J. Soreng. CAN. • Close-up of inflorescence. Plant with less even and less purple flower colour than shown in previous picture. Note band of reddish purple colouration at the middle of spikelet lemmas and the translucent, yellowish zone towards the apex. Nunavut, Ellesmere Island, Tanquary Camp, 81°24'N, 76°52'W. 21 July, 1999. L.L. Consaul 2153 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Spikelet drawing. Drawing of a fully developed spikelet (right) and glumes only after fruits have dropped (left). Puccinellia glumes are less than half the length of the spikelet whereas Poa glumes are more than half the length of the spikelet. Reproduced with permission from Meddeleser om Grønland, Sorensen (1952). • Close-up of lemma apex. Apex of lemma, showing erose edges and small blunt trichomes (less than 25 micrometers long) forming an irregularly scabrous margin (as seen at 100X magnification). Nunavut, Devon Island, Dundas Harbour. M.O. Malte 118462. CAN. • Close-up of glume apex. Second glume apex scabrous with small blunt trichomes concentrated at the tip (as seen at 100X magnification). Nunavut, Devon Island, Dundas Harbour. M.O. Malte 118462. 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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