Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago


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

Rubus chamaemorus L.

English: Cloudberry, baked-apple, baked-apple berry, bakeapple, bake-apple, yellow-berry, malka,

French: Chicouté,

Inuktitut: Aqpit (Baffin Island), Aqpiqutit, aqpiksait, aqpit, aqpinnaqutit, aqpiputit, nakait; arpiq, arpiquitik, auniq (Nunavik).

Rosaceae, Rose family.

Published in Sp. Pl. 494. 1753.

Type: Described from Sweden.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 6–15(–20) cm high; perennial herbs. Only fibrous roots present. Ground level or underground stems horizontal, or vertical (additional information in notes); rhizomatous; elongate; 1–3 mm wide. Caudex absent. Aerial stems developed; arising singly, upright, often flexuous, stems unbranched with leaves 1–3 (more often 3 in female plants). Leaves present; distributed along the stems; alternate; dying annually and non-persistent. Stipules present (sheath-like); 5–10 mm long; 3–5 mm wide; brown; glabrous, or hairy; villous (sparsely, sometimes with marginal hairs); without glands; apex rounded (and entire, unusual among arctic Rosaceae). Petioles present; 5–35(–80) mm long; hairy; long-silky. Petiole hairs shorter than the diameter of the petiole; spreading, or reflexed (often a mixture of white non-glandular and brown, glandular hairs); straight, or curved; smooth. Leaf blades simple (a contrast with most other arctic members of the family). Leaf blade bases cordate. Blades 10–30 mm long (Arctic, to 50 mm long in the Yukon), 20–50(–110) mm wide, circular (cordate) or reniform, veins palmate (main veins) or veins pinnate (conspicuously so in lobes). Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface hairy (particularly along the veins), hairs long-silky, hairs sparse and moderately dense (sparse between the veins, moderately dense on the veins), hairs white, hairs straight (mainly), hairs spreading. Blades lobed (with 5–7 rounded lobes and shallow sinuses). Blade margins serrulate, with non-glandular hairs, with teeth all around the blade; degree of incision 15–25%; apices obtuse.

Reproductive morphology. Plants dioecious. Flowering stems solitary; about as high as the leaves, or conspicuously taller than the leaves; with leaves. Flowering stems hairy. Flowering stems long-silky (downward pointing). Flowering stem hairs simple; white or translucent and brown (the non-glandular hairs white, the glandular hairs golden brown); glandular hairs present (these conspicuous on new growth, glabrescent with age). Flowers solitary. Flowers medium-sized, or large (usually); radially symmetrical (actinomorphic); unisexual. Sepals conventional. Epicalyx absent. Sepals 4–5; free; 4–8 mm long; 7–9 mm wide; green; accrescent. Calyx without sessile glands; hairy. Calyx hairs long-silky (but hairs rather variable and sometimes glandular); glandular, or non-glandular; white or translucent (non-glandular), or brown (glandular). Calyx margins ciliate. Petals conventional; free; 4–5; white, or yellow; obovate; unlobed; 10–15(–18) mm long; 7–12 mm wide. Stamens 25–40; stamen filaments glabrous. Anthers yellow; sub-globose; 0.4–0.7 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 20–25; apocarpous. Styles present; 2–3 mm long. Ovules per ovary 1. Fruit stalked; with calyx persisting; fleshy; an aggregate of drupelets; ovoid; red (when immature, hard and firm), or orange (when ripe, soft and juicy); 10–15 mm long; 10–15 mm wide; glabrous; surface appearing veinless; indehiscent.

Chromosome information. 2n = 56.

2n (8x) = 56. Löve and Löve (1944b, northern Europe); Sokolovskaya and Strelkova (1941, northern Russia, Kolguev; 1960, 1962, northern Russia); Vaarama in Löve and Löve (1948, Finland); Vaarama (1954, Finland); Larsson (1957b, northern Europe); Jørgensen et al. (1958, Greenland); Löve and Ritchie (1966, northern Canada); Johnson and Packer (1968, northwestern Alaska); Laane (1969b, Norway); Krogulevich (1976a, northern Siberia; 1978 Siberia); Löve and Löve (1982a, central Canada); Zhukova (1982, northeastern Asia). Numerous more southern counts.

Ploidy levels recorded 8x.

Indigenous knowledge. The plants have many different names in their different stages of development. They are known as aqpiqutit before the berry forms, aqpiksait during the spring before they turn red, and as aqpit during the summer. The stems and leaves of the plants are called aqpinnaqutit, aqpiputit, or nakait (Ootoova et al. 2001).

Alaskan natives called this species (and possibly another species of Rubus) salmonberries because of the resemblance of the raspberry-like fruits to salmon eggs. Cloudberries growing in the wild are highly valued and a favourite wild fruit of the Inuit. Native peoples often conserve the berries in a frozen state in the snow. The leaves have occasionally been employed as a tea substitute.

Sir John Richardson (1851, p. 236) noted that the berries are "perhaps the most delicious of the arctic berries when in perfection, but cloy if eaten in quantity". Fernald and Kinsey (1943, P. 293) praise them with less reserve, saying, "the ripe, fresh berries of Baked-Apple eaten without sugar or cream are delicious, but with the addition of these dressing are positively luscious". The Eskimo, lacking such refinements, serve them in a mixture of seal oil and chewed caribou tallow which has been beaten to a consistency of whipped cream (Porsild 1953).

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: wet meadows, around the margins of ponds, marshes, along streams, slopes, ridges, dry meadows; imperfectly drained moist areas, dry, moderately well-drained areas; moss; with high organic content, peat; acidic. Rubus chamaemorus grows in moist, peaty and turfy soils, including sphagnum bogs and hummocks with pH 2.5–4.5, muskegs, mossy tundra and black spruce bogs. The species occupies a broad spectrum of sites from dry to wet, but is most common on wetter sites, particularly raised bogs, and freshwater marshes. Good growth has been observed with the pH as high as 6.1. Rubus chamaemorus sometimes occurs in periodically dry lichen carpets on acid rocks. The species is considered to be a pioneer that rapidly colonises bare soil.

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited. Uncommon. Low Arctic. Arctic islands: Baffin, Victoria, Coats (Digges).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumboreal. Northern Fennoscandian, Kanin–Pechora, Svalbard – Franz Joseph Land, Polar Ural – Novaya Zemlya, Yamal–Gydan, Taimyr – Severnaya Zemlya, Anabar–Olenyok, Kharaulakh, Yana–Kolyma, West Chukotka, South Chukotka, East Chukotka, West Alaska, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay, West Greenland.

General notes. Small and Catling (2000b) have written an extensive and informative review of cloudberry. They state the name is "from the Latin rubus, bramble, from ruber, meaning red, an allusion to red dye obtained from fruits of some of the species. Chamaemorus, from the Greek chamai and moron. First applied for this species by Carolus Clusius, 1601. The word chamae, which means on the ground, a reference to the low habit." (p. 43).

"Cloudberry has an extensive creeping and branching system of slender woody rhizomes covered with brownish papery bark. The rhizomes can grow down to a depth of 30 cm," and in southern areas have an average length of about 1 m (Small and Catling 2000b). Cloudberry propagates predominantly by these subterranean rhizomes, which grow about 10 cm below the substrate surface. Such vegetative reproduction has been said to be the best strategy for reproduction in the unpredictable climate of high latitudes. While seeds are necessary to colonise sites, seedlings are rarely observed under natural conditions. That R. chamaemorus is dioecious has been the subject of many evolutionary research studies. Cloudberry stands often have a dominance of male plants, with less than 25% of the flowering shoots female. "This has been attributed partly to greater competitive ability of male plants, and partly to greater flower production by the males. The important fly and bee pollinators show a strong preference for male flowers, which are larger, provide pollen and much more nectar. This seemingly excessive favouring of the male sex may be related to the relatively low dependence of the species on sexual reproduction" (Small and Catling 2000b, p. 44).

Rubus chamaemorus is the only species in the subgenus Chamaemorus which is characterised by annual aerial stems, simple leaves, and yellow fruit. The species has crossed spontaneously (and has been artificially crossed) with the common raspberry, but the offspring of these crosses have been sterile.

Moose and caribou browse the aerial shoots. In Northern areas heavy frost, snowfalls, or rain during flowering may result in very limited or no seed production. "Female flowers appear to be more susceptible to frost than the male flowers. Good snow cover has been observed to delay flowering until the danger of frost damage is reduced". (Small and Catling 2000b, p. 45)

In Canada, it is considered that the best way to harvest is to "pick a combination of the hard red fruit and the soft golden fruit. The hard red fruits seem to have a high pectin content and when cooked produce a delicious apricot-like flavour, but using only the hard red berries produces too thick and dry a preserve. The soft golden fruit is fragile, deteriorates easily, and when cooked without some hard red fruits produces a slightly runny product with an inferior flavour. The fresh berries will keep for several weeks in a refrigerator." (Small and Catling 2000b, p. 45). However, in the Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, and Finland) it is against the law (and quite often also punished) to pick the red fruits, and jam with some red fruits is considered vastly inferior (Elven, personal communication, 2005).

"The Finnish liqueur Lakka and the Quebec liqueur Chicoutai are both distilled from cloudberry....Cloudberries have a high content (50–150 mg per 100 g of fruit) of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which is retained well when the berries are frozen or otherwise preserved immediately after picking. The berries are also rich in benzoic acid (ca 50 mg/100 g of fruit), which promotes good storage. Aromatic compounds are prevalent in cloudberry and produce a very pleasing and unique scent. More than 100 volatiles have been identified, the most important of which are ethyl hexanoate, 4-vinylphenol, 2-methoxy-5-vinylphenol, 2-methylbutanoic acid, hexanal benzyl alcohol, and 2-phenyl-ethanol. The volatile compounds may be used to identify cultivars."

"The seeds of cloudberry have tested positive for amygdalin, a poisonous cyanogenetic compound, which may function as a germination inhibitor. There has been no suggestion that the concentrations are sufficient to raise concern, and cloudberries are considered non-toxic." (Small and Catling 2000b, p. 45).

Illustrations. • Habitat. Cloudberry plants near the markers growing in peaty tundra. Manitoba, Churchill, Bird Cove. 23 July, 2001. Aiken and Brysting 01–021. CAN. • Close-up of plant (female). Flowers solitary with 4–5 white petals. 22 July, 1981. N.W.T., Tuktoyaktuk. J.M. Gillett 18778. CAN. • Close-up of plant (male). Remains of a male flower with brown calyx and withered anthers. Aiken and Brysting 01–014. CAN. • Close-up of flower (male). Male flower after anthesis showing shrivelled anthers and a still attached dried perianth. Aiken and Anne Brysting 01–014. • Close-up of plants. Cloudberry in tundra. N.W.T, Anderson River, Twin Lakes, 69°41'N, 128°55'W. 7 August, 1997. L.L. Consaul and L.J. Gillespie. No voucher. • Close-up of fruit. Fruit composed of many fleshy carpels. Manitoba, Churchill, Bird Cove. 23 July, 2001. Aiken and Brysting 01–014. CAN. • Close-up of fruit. Fruit composed of fleshy carpels. Manitoba, Churchill, Bird Cove. 23 July, 2001. Aiken and Brysting 01–014. CAN. • Drawing of plant. Drawing, Botany Division, CMN, fig. 148. December 1971. CMN Photo Library S74–924. • Close-up of plant. Drawing by Mrs. S. Bergh and Mrs. L. Barstad based on a collection from Svalbard, Nordenskiöld Land, Isfjordområdet, Colesbay, östra sidan, längst inne i fjorden [E side, innermost in the bay]. 13 August, 1915. E. Asplund 0 200132. 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.