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

Sibbaldia procumbens L.

English: Creeping sibbaldia,

French: Sibbaldie couchée,

Inuktitut: arpehutik (northern Quebec).

Rosaceae, Rose family.

Published in Sp. Pl. 284. 1753.

Type: Described from Europe, selected by Barrie in Jarvis et al., Regnum Veget. 127: 88. 1993. Lectotype: LINN 401.1.

Vegetative morphology. Plants (1.5–)5–15 cm high; perennial herbs. Only fibrous roots present. Ground level or underground stems horizontal; rhizomatous (with rhizomes that become freely branched and woody in old plants); elongate; 1–3 mm wide. Caudex present (vertical underground stems with an accumulation of dead leaf bases may appear caudex-like), or absent (when horizontal rhizomes are well developed). Aerial stems a small transition zone between taproot and basal leaves; prostrate, or decumbent (predominantly), or erect (1–2 cm of the stems bearing leaves). Leaves present; mainly basal; alternate; dying annually and non-persistent (leaf blades), or marcescent (petioles and stipules). Stipules present; 3.5–10 mm long; 0.5–1.5 mm wide (free portion); not sheathing; brown, or pink or reddish (when young); hairy; pilose; without glands; apex acuminate (tapering to a long point). Petioles 3–40(–60) mm long; hairy (sparsely so); pilose. Petiole hairs longer than the diameter of the petiole; spreading; straight; smooth. Leaf blades compound. Blades 4–20 mm long, 6–25(–30) mm wide, veins palmate (leaflet veins reticulate). Blade adaxial surface glabrous (to the naked eye) or hairy (sparsely so), hairs simple. Blade abaxial surface hairy (sparsely so), hairs pilose, hairs sparse, hairs white, hairs straight, hairs spreading. Blade margins serrate, with non-glandular hairs (glabrescent), with teeth toward the apex (usually 3 teeth per leaflet); apices obtuse. Leaflet arrangement palmate. Leaflets 3; 0.4–2(–2.5) mm long; (2–)4–12 mm wide; obovate, or obtriangular (the apex truncate and usually with 3 teeth); veins conspicuous (at least at 10×).

Reproductive morphology. Plants bisexual. Flowering stems two or more per plant; shorter than the leaves; with leaves. Flowering stems hairy. Flowering stems pilose. Flowering stem hairs simple; white or translucent. Flowers in inflorescences. Inflorescences cymose, or head-like (with associated bracts); dense; globose or sub-globose (in small plants; spreading in larger plants); 0.5–3 cm long (to 12 cm long further south); elongating as the fruit matures. Pedicels present (short when the flowers are in bud). Flowers per inflorescence 3–20; small. Sepals conventional. Epicalyx present. Epicalyx segments 2–3 mm long. Epicalyx segments 0.4–0.8 mm wide. Epicalyx segments shorter than the calyx segments, or equal in length to the calyx segments. Epicalyx segments narrower than the calyx segments (narrowly lanceolate). Sepals 4–5 (broadly lanceolate); free; 1.2–1.6 mm long; 3–4.5 mm wide; green. Calyx without sessile glands; hairy (sparsely so, more densely on the receptacle). Calyx hairs pilose; non-glandular; white or translucent. Calyx margins without cilia (hairs from the calyx surface may protrude). Petals conventional; free; shorter than the calyx; 4–5 (falling early); green, or yellow (cream); obovate (with 3 palmate veins); unlobed; 1–1.3 mm long; 0.5–0.7 mm wide. Stamens present; 5; stamen filaments glabrous. Anthers yellow; sub-globose; 0.2–0.4 mm long. Ovary partly inferior; carpels (7–)10–15 (borne on stipes); apocarpous. Styles present (elongating after anthesis; arising near the base of the carpel); 0.5–1 mm long; straight. Ovules per ovary 1. Fruit stalked; with calyx persisting; dry; an aggregate of achenes (4–6 folicles surrounded by the persisting calyx and epicalyx); yellowish; 1–1.5 mm long (each achene); 0.4–0.8 mm wide; glabrous; surface appearing veinless; indehiscent. Styles modified and persisting.

Chromosome information. 2n = 14.

2n (2x) = 14. Böcher (1938a, Greenland, 1969, Norway and Greenland); Sokolovskaya and Strelkova (1941, northern Russia, Kolguev; 1960, 1962, northern Russia); Löve and Löve (1944b, northern Europe; 1956, Iceland; 1966, northeastern USA); Sørensen and Westergaard, in Löve and Löve (1948, Greenland); Larsen (1954, northern Europe?); Wiens and Halleck (1962, western USA and western Canada); Sorsa (1963b, Finland); Packer (1964, northwestern Canada); Hedberg (1967, northern Canada); Knaben and Engelskjøn (1967, southern and northern Norway); Taylor and Mulligan (1968, western Canada); Zhukova (1969, 1980, 1982, northeastern Asia); Sokolovskaya (1970, northeastern Russia); Pojar (1973, western Canada); Porsild (1975, Yukon); Dawe and Murray, in Löve (1979, Alaska); Sokolovskaya et al. (1985, northeastern Asia); Uotila and Pellinen (1985, Finland); Dalgaard (1988, western Greenland). Numerous more southern counts.

Ploidy levels recorded 2x.

Indigenous knowledge. Leaves were used to make a medicinal tea to relieve general stomach ache (Anon 1984).

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: snow patches, slopes (with Salix herbacea and herbmats); imperfectly drained moist areas; rocks, gravel; with low organic content, with high organic content; acidic (mainly). In moist gravelly herbmats where snow remains late (Porsild and Cody 1980). In continental North America it has been found in a sheltered ravine on unstable soil near a stream (CAN 269807); rocky ridges and grassy slopes near timberline (CAN 73657);.

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited. Rare (except in the extreme southeast, where it is fairly frequent (Polunin 1940)). Low Arctic. Arctic islands: Baffin (southeast).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar, or circumboreal (with a large Siberian and a small North American gap). Northern Iceland, Northern Fennoscandian, Kanin–Pechora, Svalbard – Franz Joseph Land, Polar Ural – Novaya Zemlya, Yamal–Gydan, Taimyr – Severnaya Zemlya, South Chukotka, East Chukotka, West Alaska, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay, West Greenland, East Greenland.

General notes. Polunin (1940) commented that this seems to be an unusually good monomorph and that he could see no constant difference between the material from the eastern Arctic Archipelago and specimens collected in widely separated parts of Europe and Asia. In the Canadian Arctic, it generally grows in rather close, low tufts, whose very tallest axes scarcely reach 10 cm, but which flower and fruit quite plentifully.

Galen and Stanton (1995) studied responses of snowbed plant species to changes in the length of a growing season. "Over the course of the experiment, growing season length had significant effects on absolute and relative cover of the species studied (P ≤ 0.025 and P ≤ 0.005, respectively), and these effects were similar near both the edge and centre of the snowbed. Yet, only for the snowbed specialist, Sibbaldia procumbens, were changes in absolute and relative cover under early and late snowmelt schedules predictable from the species' distribution along the historical snow depth gradient. Sibbaldia procumbens increased in cover under a long growing season and was more common in historically early-melting portions of the snowbed." (p. 1546).

Illustrations. • Habitat on Apex Hill. Plants on Apex Hill, Baffin Island. 19 August, 2006. Aiken 06–036. CAN. • Close-up of leaves. Characteristic leaves with three strap-like leaflets. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Apex. 19 August, 2006. Aiken 06–036. CAN. • Habitat: Ogac Lake. Michelle LeBlanc photographing plants growing between the markers in this dry run-off south facing slope. The area was well mulched with lemming litter and the plants where initially barely visible. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. 9 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–032. CAN 586502. • Habitat: Ogac Lake. Michelle LeBlanc photographing plants growing between the markers in this dry run-off south facing slope. The area was well mulched with lemming litter and the plants where initially barely visible. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. 9 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–032. CAN 586502. • Close-up of plants in habitat. Plants growing between the markers in this dry run-off south facing slope. Lemming litter had been removed to make the plants more visible. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. 9 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–032. CAN 586502. • Close-up of leaves. Plants with characteristic three leaflet leaves. A) arrow points to one leaflet. Note each leaflet has three teeth at the apex. B) flower buds present. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–032. CAN 586502. • Close-up of plant. Close-up of plant in flower. B.C., Glacier National Park. July, 1972. CMN Photo Library S74–177. Photograph by E. Haber. • Plants with fruiting inflorescences. Plants with branching fruiting inflorescences. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Apex Hill. 19 August, 2006. Aiken 06–036. CAN. • Plants with fruiting inflorescences. Plants with branching fruiting inflorescences. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Apex Hill. 19 August, 2006. Aiken 06–036. CAN. • Drawing of plant. Note inflorescences are often shorter than the leaves. Botany Division, CMN. December 1971. CMN Photo Library S74–955. • 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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