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

Woodsia glabella R. Br. ex Richardson

English: Smooth cliff fern, smooth cliff brake,

French: Woodsie glabre,

Inuktitut: Uivva, uivvaujaq (Nunavik).

Woodsiaceae, Cliff-fern family.

Published in In Franklin, Narr. Journey Polar Sea, 754: 1823.

Type: Described from Canada: Mackenzie District. BM?

Synonymy. Woodsia alpina (Bolton) Gray var. glabella (R. Br. ex. Richardson) D.C. Eaton

Vegetative morphology. Plants 1–15 cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose (loosely clustered). Only fibrous roots present. Roots black. Ground level or underground stems horizontal; stoloniferous; compact. Aerial stems not developed, fern leaves with long petioles arising from a rhizome; not conspicuously jointed. Leaves present; arising singly from creeping rhizomes (from ground-level stems); alternate; dying annually and non-persistent, or marcescent. Petioles 1–30 mm long (CAN 518375, a large Arctic plant); glabrous (green or straw-coloured throughout, articulate above the base at a swollen node, somewhat pliable and resistant to shattering). Leaf blades compound. Blades 35–100(–150) mm long, (2–)3–8(–12) mm wide, circinate when young (becoming linear or lanceolate mature fronds), with inconspicuous veins. Blade adaxial surface glabrous (or with occasional sessile glands). Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins slightly revolute, blades lobed. Blade margins crenate (small fronds, or approaching lobed, large fronds). Hydathodes present and conspicuous (often, as white slits to the veins, seen on the adaxial surface), or present but inconspicuous. Blade apices obtuse. Leaflet arrangement pinnate (pinnatifid, largest pinnae with 1–3 pairs of pinnules, pinnae fan-shaped, wider than long near the base of the frond; ovate-lanceolate, longer than wide, towards the tip of the frond. Pinnules entire or broadly crenate; margins thin).

Reproductive morphology. Sporangia in sori on the undersurface of the leaves. Indusia of narrow hair-like segments, one row of cells many times longer than wide, and longer than the sporangia.

Chromosome information. 2n = 78 (to about 80).

2n = 78 Britton in Fabbri (1963); Britton (1964, central Canada); Löve (1970a); Löve (1976); Cody and Mulligan (1982, Canada); Hämet-Ahti et al. (1984 Finland, secondary reference)

2n = about 80, Löve and Löve (1961d); Mitui (1970).

Ploidy levels recorded 2x.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: slopes, ridges, cliffs; imperfectly drained moist areas, dry; rocks, sand (CAN 397500); with low organic content, with high organic content (often growing in limited substrate); calcareous. Moist, often somewhat shaded rock crevices, on talus slopes, on calcareous rock, but also found in "dry tundra" (CAN 454045), and gravel on granitic outcrops (CAN 454079), grassy, solifluction slopes among rocks and clumps of moss, dry, stony sandstone slopes, rocky stream beds, clay pockets among rock boulders, in cracks of basalt crust (CAN 295397), and in dense cushions mixed with Cystopteris (CAN 267421).

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago widespread, or limited. Common. Arctic, alpine. Arctic islands: Baffin, Devon, Ellesmere, Axel Heiberg, Banks, Victoria, Somerset, King William (and Boothia Peninsula).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar, or circumboreal. Northern Fennoscandian, Kanin–Pechora, Svalbard – Franz Joseph Land, Polar Ural – Novaya Zemlya, Taimyr – Severnaya Zemlya, Anabar–Olenyok, Kharaulakh, 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. Woodsia glabella is a well-marked species in our area. The glabrous, pale yellow-green (straw-coloured) petiole is a good identification characteristic.

Illustrations. • Habitat: Baffin Island. Plants less than 5 cm high growing between the markers in the shelter of a rock on a dry, south facing rocky tundra slope with Dryas and Carex rupestris. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. 13 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–082. CAN 586554. • Habitat. Plants growing under the shelter of a rock. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Iqaluit, Apex area. 27 July, 1982. J.M. Gillett 19086. CAN. • Close-up of plants. Plants less than 5 cm high growing in the shelter of a rock on a dry, south facing rocky tundra slope with Dryas and Carex rupestris. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. 13 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–082. CAN 586554. • Close-up of plant. Plants growing among rocks. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Iqaluit, Apex area. 27 July, 1982. J.M. Gillett 19086. CAN. • Close-up of sporangia. Leaf with a glabrous rachis and simple leaflets. Lower surface of leaflets covered with sori, globose clusters of sporangia. Each sorus is covered with an indusium made up of narrow hair-like segments longer than the sporangia, each segment one row of cells wide and many times longer than wide. July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–082. CAN 586554. • Close-up of plant. A single frond with simple pinnae. Drawing by Mrs. S. Bergh and Mrs. L. Barstad based on a collection from Svalbard, James I Land, Nordfjorden (Kapp Wrn). 10 August, 1868. A.J. Malmgren 0–200136. With permission of the Botanical Museum, University of Oslo, Norway. • 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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