Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago
English: Yellow marsh saxifrage,
French: Saxifrage oeil-de-bouc (Baffin Island), Saxifrage affine (Nunavik).
Saxifragaceae, Saxifrage family.
Published in Sp. Pl. 402. 1753.
Type: Sweden: selected by Webb, Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 95: 264. 1987. Lectotype: LINN 575.38.
Synonymy. Leptasea hirculus (L.) Small, N. Amer. Fl. 22, 2: 152. 1905.
Hirculus ranunculoides Haw., Saxifr. Enum. 40 1821.
Saxifraga prorepens Fisch. ex Sternb., Revis. Saxifrag. 59. 1810.
Saxifraga propinqua R. Br. in Ross, Voy. Discovery, ed. 2, 2: 192. 1819.
Hirculus propinquus Haw., Saxifr. Enum. 40. 1821.
Saxifraga hirculus L. var. propinqua (R.Br.) R.Br., Chlor. Melvill. 5. 1823.
Leptasea alaskana Small, N. Amer. Fl. 22, 2: 152. 1905. (Described from northern Alaska: Barrow).
Saxifraga hirculus L. subsp. propinqua (R. Br.) Á. Löve and D. Löve, Sv. Bot. Tidskr. 45: 379. 1951.
Vegetative morphology. Plants 4–20(–25) cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose; sometimes vegetatively proliferating by bulbils on stems or leaves (formed at the end of rhizomes and detaching to develop as new plants). Ground level or underground stems horizontal; rhizomatous (usually), or stoloniferous; elongate, or compact. Horizontal stems at ground level, branching extensively to shape plant habit as mats. Caudex present (freely branching, older plants), or absent (trailing plants). Aerial stems erect. Leaves present; mainly basal, or distributed along the stems; erect; alternate; persistent (at least the youngest foliage leaves overwintering). Petioles present (at least on the basal leaves, stem leaves often sessile); 3–15(–35) mm long; hairy; puberulent, or villous (sparsely with a few brown hairs new the main stem). Leaf blades simple. Leaf blade bases attenuate. Blades 5–13 mm long, 2–4 mm wide, lanceolate or oblanceolate, flat, with inconspicuous veins. Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blades not lobed. Blade margins entire; apices acuminate, or acute (bluntly).
Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems with leaves. Flowering stems hairy. Flowering stems woolly. Flowering stem hairs simple; brown. Flowers solitary (usually), or in inflorescences. Inflorescences without bulbils; spicate (if applicable); 0.5–2 cm long. Pedicels present, or absent (single flower); with non-glandular hairs (if applicable). Flowers per inflorescence 1(–3); medium-sized. Sepals conventional; 5; free; (1.2–)1.5–2.5 mm long; 4.5–5.5 mm wide; green, or purple. Calyx without sessile glands; hairy (with orange-brown cilia). Calyx hairs glandular; brown. Calyx margins ciliate. Petals conventional; free; 5; yellow; with contrasting markings (as "lemon" coloured dots on each side of a basal nectary); obovate, or elliptic; unlobed; 6–11 mm long; (2.5–)3–4 mm wide. Stamens 10; stamen filaments glabrous. Anthers yellow; sub-globose; 0.5–0.9 mm long. Nectaries present. Receptacle 0.1–0.2 mm high. Ovary superior; carpels 2; partly fused. Ovaries glabrous. Placentation axile. Ovules per ovary 50–100 (approx.). Fruit with calyx persisting; dry; a capsule; ovoid, or ellipsoid; brown, or purple; 6–9 mm long; 4–6.5 mm wide; dehiscent; splitting to the base into separate segments. Seeds 50–100 (approx.); 0.5–0.7 mm long; black, or brown; surfaces verrucose (minutely so, seen at 40×).
Chromosome information. 2n = 16, 24, 28, and 32.
(2n) (2x) = 16. Sokolovskaya and Strelkova (1939); Mosquin and Hayley (1966, northern Canada); Hedberg (1967, northern Canada; 1968, northern Alaska, ten counts); Johnson and Packer (1968, northwestern Alaska); Löve et al. (1971, western North America); Packer and McPherson (1974, northern Alaska); Dawe and Murray, in Löve (1979, central Alaska); Zhukova (1980, southern Chukotka); Zhukova and Petrovsky (1980, 1987a, northeastern Asia); Frey et al. (1981, central Europe); Löve and Löve (1982a, Arctic Canada); Murín et al. (1984, central Asia, as S. propinqua);
(2n) (3x) = 24. Hedberg (1967, 1992, northern Canada);
(2n) = 28. Sokolovskaya and Strelkova (1939);
(2n) (4x) = 32. Flovik (1940, Svalbard); Sørensen and Westergaard, in Löve and Löve (1948, Greenland); Löve and Löve (1951, 1956, Iceland); Hamel (1958b); Jørgensen et al. (1958, Greenland); Sokolovskaya (1958); Sokolovskaya and Strelkova (1960); Packer (1964, northwestern Canada); Zhukova (1967a, 1969, northeastern Asia); Löve (1970a); Zhukova and Tikhonova (1971, Chukotka); Krogulevich (1976a, 1984, Siberia); Engelskjøn (1979, Bear Island); Petrovsky and Zhukova (1981, Wrangel Island); Yurtsev and Zhukova (1982, northern Siberia);Küpfer and Rais (1983, central Europe); Zhukova and Petrovsky (1980, 1987a, northeastern Asia).
Ploidy levels recorded 2x, 3x, and 4x.
Taxon as an environmental indicator. The height of plants of this species can be used as an indicator of how severe the growing conditions in a particular habitat may be. Plants more than 15 cm tall occur in favourable environments. Polunin (1940) recorded the northernmost record as Spitsbergen, 79°57'N. It has since been found on Ellesmere Island, from Lower Wood Creek, 82°31'N (DAO).
Ecology and habitat. Substrates: wet meadows. Mossy meadows, by brooks and lake shores. Where it is abundant the showy flowers may give a yellow tinge to the tundra. It occurs sparingly on drier areas of open clay. In Greenland, the flowers are strongly protandrous (Warming 1909). Pistillate flowers, and forms showing all the transitional stages between these and the usual flowers, are found on Spitsbergen (Andersson and Hesselman, 1900). Different-sized flies and other Diptera have been observed to visit the flowers (Hedberg 1992).
North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago widespread. Common. Arctic. Arctic islands: Baffin, Devon, Ellesmere, Axel Heiberg, Parry islands (Bathurst, Emerald, Melville, Prince Patrick), Cornwallis, Banks, Victoria, Prince of Wales, Somerset, King William, Southampton, Coats (Bylot, Digges, Mill, Prince Charles, Boothia and Melville peninsulas).
Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar, or circumboreal. Northern Iceland, Northern Fennoscandian, KaninPechora, Svalbard Franz Joseph Land, Polar Ural Novaya Zemlya, YamalGydan, Taimyr Severnaya Zemlya, AnabarOlenyok, Kharaulakh, YanaKolyma, 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. Polunin (1940) recognised both var. hirculus and var. propinqua as occurring in the Canadian Arctic. Porsild (1957) indicated that var. hirculus is a circumpolar arctic-alpine species and considered that only var. propinqua occurs in the eastern Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Polunin (1940) noted that this taxon exhibits considerable variation in our area. Hedberg (1967), in a study of taxonomic differentiation in S. hirculus, found that field fixations of specimens from Arctic Canada yielded two chromosome numbers, 2n = 16, for plants from northern Canada, Victoria and Southampton Island, and northern Alaska (10 counts). He also reported one triploid count (2n = 24) as 'propinqua') from Cornwallis Island. All the plants he assigned to subsp. propinqua.
Hedberg (1992) argued that S. hirculus s.l. is an arctic-boreal aggregate developed from the very diverse 'Himalayan' centre of sect. Ciliatae (he stated that 54 species were known from Nepal alone). He accepted one northern species with four subspecies, three of which are present in the Arctic: a tetraploid subsp. hirculus in European Russia, Siberia, Alaska, and Canada; a diploid subsp. propinqua in eastern Chukotka, Alaska, Canada, and northeastern Greenland; and a tetraploid subsp. compacta in eastern Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard, northeastern Russia, Siberia, Russian Far East, Alaska, and northwesternmost Canada. A diploid subsp. coloradensis Hedberg is recognised in southwestern USA: Colorado. Hedberg (1992) presented morphological and cytological support for his proposal. His detailed cytotaxonomic study of the species as a whole concluded that most of the material of S. hirculus studied could be easily distributed between these above-named four morphologically and geographically distinguishable populations and that they deserved taxonomic recognition although intermediates were found wherever the populations met. He indicated that only subsp. propinqua occurs in the eastern Canada Arctic.
Zhmylev (in Elven et al. 2003) considerd S. hirculus as a circumpolar arctic-boreal species of considerable morphological variability. Shortly, rhizomatous, diploid and tetraploid plants (2n = 16, 32), often treated as subsp. propinqua, are found in high-arctic regions and mountain ridge tundra. In southern tundra, in wet mires and damp meadows are found tetraploid plants with long rhizomes, subsp. hirculus. However, the other characters (e.g., shape of petals and sepals, flowers number) are only slightly correlated with growth form. Zhmylev (in Elven et al. 2005) proposed that "ecological-morphological races of S. hirculus should not be accepted at subspecific or specific rank." Elven and Murray (in Elven et al. 2005) "tentatively accept his conclusion and propose informal entry of Hedberg's entities. Molecular studies could be rewarding in this intriguing complex. Note that Hedberg (1992) only mapped and reported material he had inspected."
Warncke et al. (1993) listed 76 species of insects visiting S. hirculus at the only site where it occurs in Switzerland. Based on the number of flower visits, they found four species were dominant, and only two of the 76 species were among the visitors to flowers of S. hirculus in Denmark.
Illustrations. • Habitat in wet meadow. Plants with yellow flowers in the foreground growing in a Dupontia meadow. Nunavut, Southampton Island, Coral Harbour. Aiken and Brysting 01–062. CAN. • Habitat: Dorset. Surface view of plants with yellow flowers growing in a run-off ditch with Saxifraga cernua and Silene uralensis. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Cape Dorset. Road to primary reservoir. August, 2005. Aiken. No voucher. • Close-up of plants. Plants more than 10 cm high growing in a Dupontia meadow. Nunavut, Southampton Island, Coral Harbour. Aiken and Brysting 01–062. CAN. Scale bar in cm. • Habitat. Plants with yellow flowers growing in a wet sedge meadow. Nunavut, Victoria Island, Flagstaff Point. L.L. Consaul 1122 and L.J. Gillespie. CAN. • Habit. Plant growing in wet meadow. Flowers borne singly on leafy stems. Note the centre flower shows two carpels. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Pond Inlet. L.J. Gillespie 6049. CAN. • Habit. Plants with a few spatulate leaves at the base and up the flowering stems, flowers with green sepals and five petals, and two reddish carpels in the upper right-hand flower. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Pond Inlet. L.J. Gillespie 6049. CAN. • Close-up of flowers. Yellow petals without contrasting markings, with 10 anthers, and two reddish green carpels that are fused at the base and diverge towards the tops, each tipped with a yellowish stigma. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Pond Inlet. L.J. Gillespie 6049. CAN. • Close-up of young fruit. Flowers beginning to set fruit. Note reddish carpels that are fused at the base and diverge at the apex. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Pond Inlet. L.J. Gillespie 6049. CAN. • Fruits. Fruits of the southern boreal plants. Finland, Kuusamo. August, 1986. Photograph by R. Elven. • Close-up of fruit. Fruit approximately 1 cm high with sepals attached at the base. Note the remains of anthers around the two-carpel gynoecium and the necks of the carpels spreading. Aiken and Brysting 01–062. 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..