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

Micranthes hieracifolia (Waldst. and Kit.) Haworth

English: Hawkweed-leaf saxifrage.

Saxifragaceae, Saxifrage family.

Published in In Sternb., Revis. Saxifrag., Suppl. 1: 4. 1822.

Type: Saxifraga hieracifolia Waldst. and Kit., Pl. Rar. Hung. 1: 17. 1802. Probably High Tatra in Slovakia: "Carpath.", Willdenow herbarium 8391. Holotype: B.

Synonymy. Saxifraga hieracifolia Waldst. and Kit., Pl. Rar. Hung. 1: 17. 1802.

Saxifraga hieracifolia Waldst. and Kit. ex Willd. subsp. longifolia (Engl. and Irmsch.) Jurtz. and V.V. Petrovsky, Byull. Moskovsk. Obshch. Isp. Prir., Biol. 85, 6: 101. 1980.

Saxifraga hieracifolia Waldst. and Kit. ex Willd., subsp. czukczorum Chrtek and Soják, Preslia 53: 71. 1981.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 7–30 cm high (to 50 cm high further south); perennial herbs; caespitose. Ground level or underground stems horizontal, or vertical; rhizomatous (tending to be erect, fairly thick and robust, with long, vigorous, adventitious roots); compact. Caudex present (short and thick). Aerial stems erect. Leaves not heterophyllous; basal in a rosette; patent; alternate; persistent. Petioles present (as attenuated leaf bases), or absent; 10–30(–40) mm long; hairy (or not applicable); pubescent. Petiole hairs shorter than the diameter of the petiole. Leaf blades simple. Leaf blade bases attenuate and truncate. Blades 15–50(–70) mm long, 9–30 mm wide, elliptic or linear (often reddish below), flat, appearing single-veined. Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous or hairy (sparse and reddish brown). Blades not lobed. Blade margins serrate or glandular-dotted, with non-glandular hairs (glabrous and white), with teeth toward the apex (a total of 6–13 teeth). Hydathodes present and conspicuous (at the apex of each tooth, but they do not appear to secrete lime). Blade apices acute, or obtuse.

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems solitary; without leaves (sometimes with leafy bracts subtending the flowers). Flowering stems hairy. Flowering stems pilose. Flowering stem hairs simple; shorter than the diameter of the flowering stem; white or translucent (with dark tips on the glands); glandular hairs present (white with small, dark glandular tips). Inflorescences spicate; 1–10 cm long. Pedicels present; with glandular hairs. Flowers per inflorescence 5–16; small. Sepals conventional; 5; free; 2.3–2.6 mm long; 3–3.5 mm wide; purple. Calyx glabrous. Petals conventional; free; shorter than the calyx, or same length as the calyx; 5; green, or red (sometimes purplish, not very conspicuous); ovate (to triangular); unlobed; 1–2 mm long; 1–1.5 mm wide. Stamens 10; stamen filaments glabrous. Anthers yellow; 0.5–0.6 mm long. Nectaries present. Receptacle 2.5–3.5 mm high. Ovary inferior; carpels 2; partly fused. Ovaries glabrous. Stigmas per ovary not papillose, unlike most other Saxifraga species. Placentation axile. Ovules per ovary 50–100 (approx.). Fruit with calyx persisting; dry; a capsule; spherical (comprising 2 partly fused flattened ovoid carpels with divergent styles); purple (black); 4.5–6 mm long; 5–7 mm wide; dehiscent; splitting to the base into separate segments. Seeds 50–100 (approx.); 1.1–1.5 mm long; brown; surfaces verrucose.

Chromosome information. 2n = 56–120.

(2n) = 56–120.

2n = 56, 63, about 100, more than 100, about 120, partly as 'longifolia'; Zhukova et al. (1973, northern and northeastern Asia);

2n = 56. Zhukova 1982, northeastern Asia, 2n = less than 100, about 100, as 'longifolia';

2n = 56, 63, more than 100, about 119, about 120, as 'longifolia'; Zhukova and Petrovsky (1987b, northeastern Asia); 2n = about 100 more than 100, about 120. Zhukova (1982 northeastern Asia);

2n = 80–82. Löve and Löve (1948, northern Europe, not entered by Löve and Löve 1975);

2n = 100. Zhukova (1965b, Wrangel Island);

2n = about 100. Zhukova and Petrovsky (1976, northeastern Asia);

2n = more than 100. Johnson and Packer (1968, northwestern Alaska); Zhukova et al. (1977, northeastern Asia); Packer and McPherson (1974, northern Alaska);

2n = 100–120. Knaben and Engelskjøn (1967, northern Norway);

2n = more than 110. Sokolovskaya (1958; 1968, northeastern Asia, Koryak, 2n = about 110);

2n = about 110, 112. Devyatov et al. (1997, northern Siberia);

2n = 112. Sokolovskaya and Strelkova (1948a, 1960, 2n = about 112); 2n = 112. Flovik (1940, Svalbard); Knaben and Engelskjøn (1967, southern Norway); Mulligan (1969, Alaska); Suda in Löve (1969); Löve and Löve, in Löve (1975b);

2n = 120. Sørensen and Westergaard in Löve and Löve (1948, Greenland); Hamel (1953); Murin and Paclova (1979, central Europe);

2n = more than 120. Packer (1964, northwestern Canada);

2n = about 120. Krogulevich (1976a, northern Siberia; 1978, southern and northern Siberia; 1984, Siberia);

1n = 112 (2n = 224. Jørgensen et al. (1958, Greenland).

Taxon as an environmental indicator. This species is indicative of rather damp mossy conditions, either beside streams, or in depressions well covered with snow in winter. Polunin (1940) reported the northernmost record as Heclahamna in Sorgfjord, approximately 79°55'N, on the north coast of Spitsbergen. It has since been collected in Canada on Ellesmere Island, Borup Fiord, 80°53'N (Canada).

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: imperfectly drained moist areas (in turfy habitats on tundra, in alpine meadows, and solifluction soil); calcareous. Plants have numerous flowers and generally manage to set seed (Polunin 1940). Warming (1909) observed that the flowers are small and rarely open in a stellate manner, but remain more or less closed with small, erect, slightly inwardly bent petals. Nectar is secreted from a sinuously angular nectary at the base of each style. A photograph in the image library, taken on Baffin Island, shows fully open flowers.

North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited. Uncommon (and sporadic). Arctic. Arctic islands: Baffin, Devon, Ellesmere, Parry islands (Bathurst), Victoria, Somerset (Air Force, Bylot, Prince Charles, Boothia and Melville peninsulas).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Circumpolar, or circumboreal (arctic-alpine). Kanin–Pechora, Svalbard – Franz Joseph Land, Polar Ural – Novaya Zemlya, Yamal–Gydan, Taimyr – Severnaya Zemlya, Anabar–Olenyok, Kharaulakh, Yana–Kolyma, West Chukotka, Wrangel Island, South Chukotka, East Chukotka, West Alaska, North Alaska – Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay, Ellesmere Land – Peary Land, East Greenland.

General notes. Polunin (1940) noted that this remarkable species, which in far northern Spitsbergen grows taller than almost any other plant, is of limited distribution but somewhat variable in the Canadian Arctic. Most individuals are very coarse, with a thick erect axis 25–30 cm high, but in some cases the axis is much shorter and more slender, with the leaves being smaller and rounder, so that the plants take on the aspect of S. nivalis. Indeed transitions (hybrids?) appear to occur between the two species. Saxifraga hieracifolia also varies markedly in the distance between successive nodes of the mature fruiting inflorescences. All the material from within the Canadian Arctic Archipelago belongs to the typical variety.

This mainly circumpolar arctic-alpine species is absent in some arctic regions. "A closely related species is probably S. integrifolia Hooker (2n = 38, 56), from northern Cordillera. It shows considerable eco-morphological plasticity, and has a different chromosome number" (Zhmylev, in Elven et al. 2003).

Illustrations. • Habit. Plant growing in a densely vegetated slope with a basal rosette of leaves, a flowering stem without leaves, and with several flowers that have gone to fruit. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Pond Inlet. L.J. Gillespie 6032. CAN. • Close-up of flowers. Flower (white arrow), note the deep pink petals, the swollen green receptacle and the two purple carpels with yellow stigmas. The fruit (black arrows) has two deep purple carpels that are fused at the base and diverging at the apex. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Pond Inlet. L.J. Gillespie 6032. CAN. • Close-up of plant. Small plant in early fruiting stage. Norway, Svalbard, Kapp Thordsen. August, 1997. Photograph by R. Elven. • Close-up of inflorescence. Inflorescence in early fruiting stage. Norway, Svalbard, Adventdalen. August, 1997. Photograph by R. Elven. • 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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