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

Androsace septentrionalis L.

Primulaceae, Primrose family.

Published in Sp. Pl. 142.1753.

Type: Described from "Alpibus Lapponiæ, Russiæ".

Vegetative morphology. Plants (2–)5–30 cm high; annual herbs, or biennial herbs. Taproot present. Ground level or underground stems absent (a contrast with A. chamaejasme). Caudex present (as a short zone from which fibrous roots arise). Aerial stems a small transition zone between taproot and basal leaves; erect. Leaves basal in a rosette; whorled; dying annually and non-persistent. Petioles absent. Leaf blade bases truncate. Blades 5–20 mm long, 2–5 mm wide, linear or lanceolate (often reddish green), flat, veins pinnate. Blade adaxial surface hairy, hairs pubescent (with stiffish glandular hairs), hairs branched (a contrast with A. chamaejasme that has unbranched hairs), hairs sparse or moderately dense or dense (if applicable), hairs white, or translucent. Blade abaxial surface glabrous or hairy, hairs sparse, hairs white. Blade margins entire or serrulate, with non-glandular hairs, with teeth toward the apex (if applicable); apices acuminate, or acute.

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems two or more per plant; without leaves (erect, ascending; few to several from each rosette, often unequal in length). Flowers in inflorescences. Inflorescences with flowers in umbels; 0.5–5 cm long; 5–30 mm wide. Pedicels present. Flowers per inflorescence 3–16; small. Sepals conventional; 5; fused; 2–4 mm wide; green. Calyx bell-shaped, or funnel-form (the tubular portion of the calyx much longer than the lobes); 5-lobed; glabrous, or hairy. Calyx hairs puberulent (seen at 10×); glandular (tiny); white or translucent. Petals conventional; fused; longer than the calyx (corolla-tube shorter than the calyx); 5; white (petals), or yellow (at the thoat); with contrasting markings (contrast between the petals and the throat); 4–4.5 mm long. Corolla rotate; 5-lobed (the corolla tube shorter than the calyx). Stamens 5; fused to the corolla. Anthers yellow; 0.4–0.6 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 5; syncarpous. Ovaries sub-globose; glabrous. Styles 1. Stigmas per ovary 1. Placentation free central. Fruit with calyx persisting; dry; a capsule; spherical, or bell-shaped; black, or brown; 2–3 mm long; 2–3 mm wide; dehiscent; splitting to the base into separate segments. Seeds 5–15; 1.3–1.6 mm long; brown; surfaces reticulate.

Chromosome information. 2n = 20 and 40.

2n (2x) = 20. Dahlgren (1916, northern Europe); Löve and Löve (1961d, northern Europe; 1982a, central Canada); Packer in Löve and Löve (1961a); Packer (1964, northwestern Canada); Lövkvist in Weimarck (1963, Sweden); Zhukova (1966, northeastern Asia); Johnson and Packer (1968, northwestern Alaska); Knaben (1968, central Alaska); Yurtsev and Zhukova (1968, northeastern Asia); Mulligan (1969, Canada); Mulligan and Porsild (1969, 1970, Yukon); Zhukova and Tikhonova (1971, Chukotka); Zhukova and Petrovsky (1972, 1987b, northeastern Asia); Zhukova et al. (1973, 1977, northeastern Asia); Packer and McPherson (1974, northern Alaska); Dawe and Murray, in Löve (1979, Alaska, two counts); Murray and Kelso (1997, western Alaska). Numerous more southern counts.

2n = 40 (4x). Krasnikov (1993, Russia-Siberia).

Ploidy levels recorded 2x and 4x.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: gravel, sand; with low organic content; calcareous.

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. Arctic. Arctic islands: Ellesmere, Axel Heiberg, Parry islands (Melville), Banks, Victoria (Baffin Island record in Porsild (1957) not found).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar, or circumboreal (with a North Atlantic gap). Kanin–Pechora, 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. Elven et al. (2003) noted that "the arctic plants differ appreciably from the northern European ones. As Linnaeus described the plant from Lapland (Sweden) and Russia (European part), the type should be from northern Europe.

...There have been several attempts to describe varieties, but none of them very successful" (Elven et al. 2003).

"The best way to deal with the plasticity inherent in this species may be to consider it all a single polymorphic taxon. No morphological distinctions, which hold up even at a population level, have been found, and the plants are really prone to environmental responses. Seeds from alpine (also arctic) morphs, which are short and few-flowered, become larger and lusher and produce many more flowers when grown in different locations. This plasticity, probably coupled with its very high level of selfing, as an annual, leads to much variation, but probably none of it is of taxonomic significance" (S. Kelso, personal communication, 1999, to Elven et al. 2003).

Illustrations. • Habitat. Plant approximately 5 cm high, growing in dry turfy tundra. N.W.T., Banks Island, Aulavik National Park. Aiken 99–007. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Close-up of plant. Plant with small white flowers borne in umbels, some on elongated flowerings stems, others near the rosette. N.W.T., Banks Island, Aulavik National Park. Aiken 99–007. CAN. • Close-up of plant. Plant with a rosette of basal leaves, no leaves on the flowering stems and small white flowers borne in umbels mostly on elongated flowering stems. N.W.T., Banks Island, Aulavik National Park. Aiken 99–007. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Umbel inflorescence. Inflorescence spreading and showing the umbel structure in which all the pedicels arise at the same point on the flowering stem. Aiken 01–052. CAN. • Close-up of sessile inflorescence. Foreground, umbel with three white flowers each having five white petal lobes that are fused into a tube at or below the yellow centre. Background, a reddish brown young umbel. Aiken 02–007. 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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