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

Pedicularis langsdorffii Fisch. ex Steven

English: Arctic fernweed.

Scrophulariaceae, Fernweed family.

Published in Mém. Soc. Imp.Naturalistes Moscou 6: 49. 1823.

Type: Described from Alaska: Unalaska and St. Lawrence Island.

Synonymy. Pedicularis arctica R. Br., Chlor. Melvill. 22. 1823.

Pedicularis langsdorffii Fisch. ex Steven var. arctica (R. Br.) Polunin, Bull. Natl. Mus. Can. 92, Biol. Ser. 24: 333. 1940.

Pedicularis langsdorffii Fisch. ex Steven subsp. arctica (R. Br.) Pennell ex Hultén, Ark. Bot., ser. 2, 7, 1: 122. 1968a.

Pedicularis purpurascens Cham. ex Spreng., Syst. Veg. 2: 781. 1825.

Pedicularis langsdorffii Fisch. ex Steven var. purpurascens (Cham. ex Spreng.) Ivanina, in Tolm. and Jurtz., Fl. Arct. URSS, 8: 307. 1980.

Vegetative morphology. Plants (5–)8–15(–20) cm high; perennial herbs; not caespitose. Taproot present (pale yellow, and branching). Ground level or underground stems horizontal. Caudex present (short and thick). Aerial stems erect. Aerial stem trichomes present, or absent; appressed (if applicable). Leaves heterophyllous; distributed along the stems (and with a basal tuft of fern-like leaves); alternate; dying annually and non-persistent. Petioles present (basal leaves), or absent (stem leaves; the broad, basal, leaf rachis, without blade lamina may be petiole-like); 0.5–10 mm long; winged (on stem leaves), or not winged (on basal leaves); glabrous. Leaf blades simple (pinnately divided). Leaf blade bases truncate. Blades 6–18 mm long, 3–5 mm wide, spreading, lanceolate or obovate (pinnately lobed into 10–20 divisions), flat, veins pinnate. Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blades lobed (when divisions are small) or cut into linear divisions. Blade margins entire or crenate or dentate (on the margins of the leaf divisions), glabrous; apices acute.

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems circular or oval in cross section. Flowering stems with leaves. Flowering stems hairy. Flowering stems woolly (if applicable). Flowering stem hairs simple; longer than the diameter of the flowering stem; white or translucent; glandular hairs absent. Inflorescences spicate; terminal; dense; globose or sub-globose (in bud), or oblong (loose and showy in flower); (2–)3–6(–10) cm long; 20–40 mm wide; elongating as the fruit matures. Pedicels present, or absent (often inconspicuous; flowers borne in the axils of leaves similar to the basal leaves, but smaller). Flowers per inflorescence 10–30; large; bilaterally symmetrical (zygomorphic). Sepals conventional; 5; fused; 8.7–9.3 mm wide; green, or purple. Calyx tubular, or funnel-form; 5-lobed; hairy. Calyx hairs woolly; white or translucent. Petals conventional; fused; 5; pink (a bright pink); with contrasting markings (helmet petals a deeper pink than the landing petals); 23–26 mm long (helmet petals 3.3–4 mm wide at the peak of the strongly arched hood). Corolla bilabiate; 2-lobed (helmet), or 3-lobed (lip or landing petal); helmet not prolonged into a long beak; helmet with 2 small teeth at the apex (these up to 2 mm long but not easily seen on all flowers). Stamens 4; stamen filaments markedly unequal in length; stamen filaments glabrous; fused to the corolla. Anthers purple, or reddish, becoming yellow; ellipsoid; (1.5–)1.8–2.2(–2.5) mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 2; syncarpous. Ovaries inverse turnip-shaped; glabrous. Styles 1; straight. Stigmas per ovary 1. Placentation axile. Ovules per ovary few. Fruit sessile; with calyx persisting; dry; a capsule; broadly lanceolate; brown; 16–20 mm long; 5.5–6.5 mm wide; glabrous; surface venation ribbed (persisting calyx more opaque than that of P. hirsuta; midveins prominent); distinctly flattened (on herbarium specimens at least); dehiscent; opening at the apex and partially or fully down one side. Seeds few; 1.2–1.3 mm long; brown; surfaces smooth.

Chromosome information. 2n = 16.

(2n) (2x) = 16. Zhukova (1966, northeastern Asia, as P. langsdorffii); Mosquin and Hayley (1966, northern Canada, as P. arctica); Johnson and Packer (1968, northwestern Alaska, as P. langsdorffii).

Ploidy levels recorded 2x.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: wet meadows, slopes, flood plains; imperfectly drained moist areas, seepage slopes, solifluction slopes; gravel, sand, silt, till, moss; with low organic content, peat; calcareous. Imperfectly drained, mossy hummock (CAN 522181); in moist clay hummocks along streams (CAN 483717); slight slope with sandy, silty soil (CAN 472947); calcareous silty sandstone formation (CAN 489907); level river terrace with open Dryas heath (CAN 311644).

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago widespread. Common. Arctic, alpine. Arctic islands: Baffin, Devon, Ellesmere, Axel Heiberg, Parry islands (Melville), Banks, Victoria, Prince of Wales, Somerset (Bylot).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Amphi-Beringian, or North American. Yana–Kolyma, West Chukotka, Wrangel Island, South Chukotka, East Chukotka, West Alaska, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay, Ellesmere Land – Peary Land, West Greenland.

General notes. Elven et al. (2003) noted that there might be a question of priority of the name, as both P. langsdorffii and P. arctica are published in 1823. The priority of P. langsdorffii is probably accepted because of the assumption that P. arctica first was published in 'Bot. App.' in 1824. A possible type of P. arctica is "Pedicularis arctica Melville Island, [1819–1820], leg. E. Sabine (BM)".

Pedicularis langsdorffii is a tall and robust plant of the northern Pacific regions. Plants in the Arctic Archipelago differ in often being more lanate, having a shorter spike, and generally broader rachis to the leaf. The flowers also tend to be smaller, but the differences are not consistent. Polunin (1940) suggested that the Arctic Archipelago plants be called P. langsdorffii var. arctica (R. Br.) Polunin. Whether there are sufficient consistent distinctions to recognise this variety, and two others suggested by Russian researcher Ivanina in her treatment for Elven et al. (2003), was being discussed (R. Elven, personal communication, 2001).

Polunin (1940) stated that the very P. hirsuta-like habit of this species is well illustrated by Simmons (1906, pl. 2). Indeed it has often been confused with P. hirsuta particularly in the south of the Arctic Archipelago. However, the unusually large, dark purple, conspicuously spreading and clearly bidentate flowers of the far northern plants identify them with P. langsdorffii.

Williams and Batzlli (1982), in a study of five species of Pedicularis that are common near Atkasook, Alaska, and rely on bumblebees for pollination, found P. langsdorffii had large numbers of ovules, high pollination success, and the largest number of seeds per shoot.

Illustrations. • Plants with roots. Rooting P. langsdorfii with a pale yellow branching taproot, a contrast with P. lanata where the taproot is bright lemon yellow and usually more robust. Left, Nunavut, Ellesmere Island, Hot Weather Creek. Edlund 70 and Roncato-Spencer. CAN 533234. Right, Melville Island, Tingmisut Lake. Tener and Harington 119. CAN 270541. • Habitat. Plant nearly 20 cm high, growing with Salix arctica in a sheltered hollow, near the top of a sand pingo. Note bract leaves are longer than the flowers at the base of the inflorescence. N.W.T., Banks Island, Aulavik National Park. 11 July, 1999. Aiken 99–054. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Close-up of plant. Plant growing with sedge. Note bract leaves are longer than the flowers at the base of the inflorescence. Flowers are strongly arched with darker pink helmet petals. Nunavut, Ellesmere Island, Slidre Fiord. July, 1988. S. Cumbaa. No voucher. • Surface view of inflorescence. Inflorescence with dense white hairs and subtending leaves that are longer than the flowers. Flower arrangement is radially symmetrical. Nunavut, Axel Heiberg Island, geodetic hills. July, 1992. S. Cumbaa. No voucher. • Close-up of flowers. Flowers with strongly arched, darker pink helmet petals. Nunavut, Axel Heiberg Island, Mokka Fiord. 17 July, 1996. L. Gillespie 6105 and C. Vogel. • Close-up of flowers. Flowers with strongly arched, darker pink helmet petals. Nunavut, Axel Heiberg Island, Mokka Fiord. 17 July, 1996. L. Gillespie 6105 and C. Vogel. • Close-up of flowers. Flowers with strongly arched, deeper pink helmet petals, that have two small teeth at the apex and extended stigmas. Landing petals are longer than helmet. Aiken 99–054. CAN. • Close-up of landing petals. Close-up of three landing petals and the tube of the corolla that leads to the nectary. Aiken 99–054. 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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