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

Ranunculus cymbalaria Pursh

English: Northern seaside buttercup,

French: Renoncule cymbalaire.

Ranunculaceae, Buttercup family.

Published in Fl. Amer. Sept. 2: 392. 1814.

Type: Described from eastern, USA: New York, Onondago.

Synonymy. Cyrtorhyncha cymbalaria (Pursh) Britton, Mem. Torrey Bot. Club 5: 161. 1894.

Halerpestes cymbalaria (Pursh) Greene, Pittonia 4: 208. 1900.

Ranunculus cymbalaria Pursh var. alpinus Hooker, Fl. Bor. Am. 1: 11. 1829.

Cyrtorhyncha cymbalaria subsp. alpina (Hooker) Á. Löve and D. Löve, Bot. Not. 128: 512. 1976.

Halerpestes cymbalaria Greene var. saximontanus (Fernald) Moldenke, Phytologia 2: 134. 1946.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 1.5–2.5 cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose. Only fibrous roots present. Roots about 1 mm thick. Ground level or underground stems horizontal; stoloniferous; elongate (widely trailing, rooting freely at the nodes); 0.4–0.6 mm wide. Caudex present (short, fibrous). Aerial stems erect. Leaves mainly basal; alternate; dying annually and non-persistent. Petioles 30 mm long. Leaf blades simple. Leaf blade bases cordate, or rounded (basal leaves). Leaves not grass-like. Blades 6–15(–25) mm long (very variable, to 38 mm long on continental North America), 10–20 mm wide (to 32 mm wide on continental North America, major blade divisions 4–10 mm), oblong or ovate or triangular, flat, veins palmate. Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins entire or crenate (sometimes 3-toothed or -lobed at apex), with teeth toward the apex. Hydathodes present but inconspicuous. Blade apices rounded.

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems shorter than the leaves. Flowers solitary, or in inflorescences (rarely). Inflorescences racemose. Inflorescences main axis glabrous (if applicable). Flowers per inflorescence 1 (-2); medium-sized. Sepals conventional; 5; free; 1.5–3 mm long (spreading); 2.5–4(–6) mm wide; green; scarious. Calyx glabrous. Petals conventional; free; 5; yellow; obovate; unlobed; (2–)3–5(–7) mm long; 1–3 mm wide. Stamens 20–30; stamen filaments glabrous. Nectaries present (nectary scale is attached basally and forms a flap over nectary). Receptacle 7–12 mm high; surface glabrous, or hairy (hispid). Ovary carpels 25–30; apocarpous. Stigmas per ovary 1. Placentation parietal. Ovules per ovary 1. Fruit stalk 2 mm long; dry; an aggregate of achenes; obovate, or elongate-cylindrical; green at maturity; 6–12 mm long; 4–5(–9) mm wide (each achene 1.2–1.7 × 0.8–1.2 mm); indehiscent. Styles remaining straight. Seeds 1 (per achene).

Chromosome information. 2n = 16.

2n (2x) = 16. Langlet (1927); Larter (1932); Böcher, in Löve and Löve (1948, Greenland); Böcher and Larsen (1950, Greenland); Rahn (1960, South America); Diers (1961, South America); Packer (1964, northwestern Canada); Löve and Ritchie (1966, northern Canada); Kapoor and Löve (1970); Göpfert (1974); Scott (1974); Kapoor (1981); Löve and Löve (1982, central Canada); Gervais and Cayouette (1985, northeastern North America); Murray and Kelso (1997, western Alaska); Gervais et al. (1999, eastern Canada).

Ploidy levels recorded 2x.

Indigenous knowledge. Various Navajo groups used Ranunculus cymbalaria as a treatment for venereal disease, an emetic, and a ceremonial medicine. The Kawaiisu used it as a dermatological aid (Moerman 1986).

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: wet meadows, seashores; aquatic. Saline or brackish shores in moist clay or sand (Porsild 1957).

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited. Rare. Low Arctic, boreal. Arctic islands: Victoria.

Northern hemisphere distribution. North American. West Alaska, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay, West Greenland.

General notes. In the north, this species becomes reduced in size, with the leaf blade 3-toothed and flowers solitary. Transplant experiments have shown that this is environmentally induced (Scott 1976, Porsild and Cody 1980).

Illustrations. • Herbarium specimen. Note the long rhizome. Plant collected Yukon, Alsek River, 6047'N, 13738'W. 20 June, 1944. H.M. and L.G. Raup. CAN 277639. • Habitat. Yellow buttercups between the markers. Plants growing in a meadow above high tide line. Manitoba, Churchill, Beech Cove. Aiken and Brysing 01–027. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Close-up of plant. Plants with yellow flowers and small leaves that are toothed towards the apex. Fruiting head elongate-cylindrical, approaching a "cone-like" shape. Manitoba, Churchill. Aiken and Brysting 01–027. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Plant habit. Plants growing in a muddy depression between rocks. N.W.T., Tuktoyaktuk. 18 July, 1981. J.M. Gillett 18674. CAN. • Habitat. Isolated and small flowering plants growing in a muddy depression. N.W.T., Tuktoyaktuk. 18 July, 1981. J.M. Gillett 18674. CAN. • Flowers and fruits. Small flowers with yellow petals and a ring of numerous anthers around each young apocarpous ovary. Note the leaf on the flowering stem with lobes at the apex. Alaska, Anchorage area, Potter Marsh. August, 2000. Photograph by H. Solstad. Voucher at 0. • Close-up of flower. Flower with 5 sepals that are shorter than the 5 petals and numerous anthers that are just beginning to shed pollen. The centre of the flower has numerous young green carpels. Manitoba, Churchill. Aiken and Brysting 01–027. CAN. • Close-up of young fruit. Flower in which yellow petals have faded to white, anthers have shed pollen and the gynoecium is ripening into the fruit. Manitoba, Churchill. Aiken and Brysting 01–027. CAN. • Close-up of fruit. Cone-like fruit consisting of many carpels. Manitoba, Churchill. Aiken and Brysting 01–027. 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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