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 arctica (Hooker) Fernald and Weath.

English: Arctic alkali grass,

French: Puccinellie arctique,

Inuktitut: Iviit, ivisuka, ivitsuskaka.

Poaceae, Grass family.

Published in Rhodora 18: 4. 1916.

Type: "Arctic sea coast. Dr. Richardson, s.n." Hooker, 1840. Holotype: K.

Synonymy. Glyceria arctica Hooker, Fl. Bor. Amer. 2: 248, pl. 229. 1840.

Phippsia arctica (Hooker) A. Löve and D. Löve, Bot. Not. 128: 498. 1975 [1976].

Puccinellia poacea T.J. Sørensen, in A.E. Porsild, Natl. Mus. Canada Bull. 135: 81. 1955.

Phippsia poacea (T.J. Sørensen) A. Löve and D. Löve, Bot. Not. 128: 500. [1975] 1976.

Puccinellia agrostidea T.J. Sørensen, in A.E. Porsild, Natl. Mus. Canada Bull. 135: 78. 1955.

Phippsia agrostidea (T.J. Sørensen) A. Löve and D. Löve, Bot. Not. 128: 498. 1975 [1976].

Vegetative morphology. Plants 13–40 cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose. Only fibrous roots present. Ground level or underground stems absent. Aerial stems erect. Leaves mainly basal (but with several cauline leaves); alternate; marcescent. Prophylls 10 mm long; with smooth veins; lacking pronounced keels. Petioles absent. Sheaths present; with the margins fused only in the lower part, or with the margins not fused; glabrous; sheath collars present. Ligules present; 1–2 mm long; membranous; glabrous, or hairy; ovate-oblong, or transversely oblong. Ligule apices acute, or obtuse, or truncate; entire, or erose, or lacerate (sometimes appearing cleft). Leaves grass-like. Blades 60–160 mm long, 0.4–0.6 mm wide (when rolled), appressed to the stem or spreading, rolled in bud, linear, flat or folded or involute (a constrast with P. borealis that has flat or conduplicate leaves), veins parallel, midvein similar in size to other veins in the leaf. Blade adaxial surface glabrous or scabrous. 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, or becoming exposed (rarely); number visible 0–1. Inflorescences paniculate; diffuse; lanceolate to ovate; 4–11 cm long; 7–30 mm wide. Inflorescences main axis glabrous to scabrous (scabrous towards top of inflorescence). Number of inflorescence branches at lowest node 2–4(–7). Inflorescence primary branches 20–45 mm long; glabrous, or scabrous; with appressed secondary branches, or with spreading secondary branches. Spikelets disarticulating above the glumes; oblong; 5–7 mm long; 1–2.5 mm wide. Florets per spikelet (2–)4–6. Two glumes present. First glume 0.48–0.76 × the length of the second glume; 0.17–0.3 × spikelet length; 1–2 mm long; lanceolate to ovate; glabrous; margins scabrous (appearing minutely fringed under high magnification); veins 1 (faint); apex acute. Second glume 0.4 × as long as the spikelet or less; shorter than the lowest floret; 1.9–3 mm long. Second glume ovate to elliptic. Second glume with trichomes (small and on margins only); margins scabrous; veins 1–3 (faint). Rachilla pronounced between the florets, or not pronounced between the florets; terminating in a vestigial floret; internode 0.6–1.1 mm long; internode 0.04–0.1 mm wide; internode glabrous. Callus differentiated; hairs 0.1–0.2 mm long; hairs shorter than the floret. Lemma oblong; 2.8–3.5 mm long; rounded on the back; surface shiny, or dull; surface hairy; surface with trichomes on veins only (long, sparse callus hairs), or on and between the veins; veins 5; apex acute, or rounded, or truncate; apex entire, or erose; apex scabrous; awnless. Palea well developed; 2.5–3.5 mm long; veins scabrous. Flowers bilaterally symmetrical (zygomorphic). Perianth represented by lodicules. Stamens 3. Anthers 1.4–2.1 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 3; syncarpous. Styles 2. Placentation basal. Ovules per ovary 1. Fruit sessile; dry; a caryopsis; 0.9–1.1 mm long; indehiscent. Seeds 1.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: wet meadows (or at least meadows subject to flood), tundra (low near the coast), seashores (on beaches or in wet sand by lagoons); gravel (pebble beaches), sand.

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited. Rare. Low Arctic. Arctic islands: Ellesmere, Axel Heiberg, Banks, Victoria.

Northern hemisphere distribution. North American. North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada.

General notes. Puccinellia arctica and P. borealis were added to the flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (Porsild 1957), in the supplement Porsild (1964),

The characters given as separating these species were as follows:

Plants littoral, panicle 6–9 cm long, anthers 1.5 mm long…. P. arctica,

Plants non-littoral, common to weedy on disturbed subarctic riverbanks and lakeshores; panicle 10–25 cm long, anthers 0.6–0.7 mm long …P. borealis.

Kartesz (1999) placed P. borealis into synonymy under P. arctica, but gave no reason for doing so. It is conceivable that he was influenced by Porsild's (1951) statement that P. borealis of the sea-coast probably should be referred to P. arctica, or, alternatively, by Welsh's (1974) description of the distribution of P. arctica as Alaska "eastward to the Labrador (P. borealis Swallen)" (Consaul and Gillespie 2001). No support for the synonymy in Kartesz (1999) was found by Consaul and Gillespie (2001). These authors found that the characters given above plus the structure of the lemma apex margin differ between the two taxa.

Lemma margin with trichomes greater than 25 micrometres long and evenly spaced…. P. borealis

Lemma margin with trichomes less than 25 micrometres long, unevenly spaced … P. arctica.

Consaul and Gillespie (2001) found that P. arctica was difficult to distinguish from P. agrostidea in the western Arctic. Analyzing specimens from throughout the range of these species, they found no morphological evidence that P. agrostidea, P. arctica, and P. poacea are different species. These three species have been synonymized in Davis and Consaul (2007) under P. arctica.

Elven et al. (2003) included this name as representing a distinct taxon in the Panarctic Flora Checklist.

Illustrations. • Habitat. Plants in the foreground growing on the beach below clay cliffs. N.W.T., Anderson River Delta, cliffs near Twin Lakes, on south side of delta, 69°41.36'N, 128°55.27'W. 7 August, 1997. L.J. Gillespie 6374 and L.L. Consaul. CAN. • Habitat. Plants growing in a silty, dry, cracked substrate near a dried-up stream bed about 400 metres from sea shore. Nunavut, Ellesmere Island, Tanquary Camp, 81°24'N, 76°52'W. 19 July, 1999. L.L. Consaul 2135 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Habitat. Brownish plants growing in the silty soil of a salt flat that is dominated by this species. Nunavut, Ellesmere Island, Tanquary Camp, 81°24'N, 76°52'W. L.L. Consaul 2158 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Habitat. Plants approximately 10 cm tall near markers in the foreground. On a dry barren south-facing lower slope of hard silt with scattered rock and pebble. Nunavut, Ellesmere Island, Hazen Camp, north shore of Lake Hazen, Blister Hill, 81°49'N, 71°20'W. 24 July, 1999. L.L. Consaul 2185 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Close-up of plant. Plants with young inflorescences growing on the beach, below clay cliffs. Right, inflorescences with branches just beginning to open. N.W.T., Anderson River Delta, cliffs near Twin Lakes, on south side of delta. 69°41.36'N, 128°55.27'W. 7 August, 1997. L.J. Gillespie 6374 and L.L. Consaul. CAN. • Close-up of plant. Plant in foreground growing as a large cespitose mound with developing purple inflorescence close to the ground. Note the dried silty mud slopes with patches of white calcium carbonate precipitate. Nunavut, Axel Heiberg Island, Gypsum Hill, west side of Gibs Fiord, 79°56.22'N, 87°14.47'W. 4 August, 1999. L.L. Consaul 2283, L.J. Gillespie, and R.J. Soreng. CAN. • Close-up of plant. Plants growing on a grass meadow salt flat. Note erect purple inflorescences (current season) and many of the previous season's culms (pale yellow straw). Both are erect which is characteristic of this species. Nunavut, Ellesmere Island, in the vicinity of Tanquary Camp, 81°24'N, 76°52'W. L.L. Consaul 2158 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Close-up of plant. Close-up of plant about 40 cm tall on bank of pebbles and sand. Inflorescence inset shows pyramidal shape of inflorescence and five branches at the lowest node. Long anthers exposed. Nunavut, Ellesmere Island, Tanquary Camp, south shore of MacDonald River Delta, 81°24'N, 76°52'W. 21 July, 1999. L.L. Consaul 2156 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Close-up of plant. Flowering plant, 11 cm high and 8 cm in diameter at base, with erect inflorescences that have spreading branches. Plant growing on a dry barren south-facing lower slope of hard silt with scattered rock and pebble. Nunavut, Ellesmere Island, Hazen Camp, Blister Hill. 24 July, 1999. L.L. Consaul 2185 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Close-up of inflorescence. Pyramidal inflorescence with three branches at the lowest node and relatively large anthers (1.3 –2.2 mm long). Nunavut, Axel Heiberg Island, Gypsum Hill, west side of Gibs Fiord, 79°56.22'N, 87°14.47'W. 4 August, 1999. L.L. Consaul 2283, L.J. Gillespie, and R.J. Soreng. CAN. • Close-up of inflorescence. Inflorescence at anthesis. Nunavut, Ellesmere Island, Hazen Camp, Blister Hill. 24 July, 1999. L.L. Consaul 2185 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Type specimen. Holotype of Puccinellia agrostidea. N.W.T., Banks Island, De Salis Bay, on south coast dry tundra flat, near lagoon. 31 July, 1949. A.E. Porsild 17614. CAN 127503. • Lemma apex: P. agrostidea. Apex of lemma showing tiny trichomes (less than 25 micrometers long) unevenly distributed along the scaberulous margin. 100x. Victoria Island, Cambridge Bay. Porsild 21597. CAN. • Lemma apex: P. poaceae. Regularly scaberulous margin at apex of lemma with tiny trichomes (less than 25 micrometers long). Note a prominent mid-vein reaching to the tip of the lemma. 100x. Axel Heiberg Island, Diana Lake. Porsild 18640. CAN. • Lemma apex: P. arctica. Lemma apex with a scaberulous margin of small trichomes (less than 25 micrometers long) irregularly spaced along the edge. 100x. N.W.T., Cape Dalhousie. A.E. and R.T. Porsild 2710. CAN. • Spikelet drawing: P. poacea. Drawn by S. Laurie-Bourque, 1995. • Spikelet drawing: P. agrostidea. A relatively small spikelet with two fully developed florets and a partial floret. Larger spikelets can have three to four florets from 4 to 7 mm in length. Drawn by S. Laurie-Bourque, 1995. • Spikelet drawing: P. arctica. From Sorensen (1953). Reproduced with permission from Meddeleser om Grønland. • 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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