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

Saxifraga paniculata Mill.

English: White mountain saxifrage, livelong saxifrage,

French: Saxifrage paniculée.

Saxifragaceae, Saxifrage family.

Published in Gard. Dict. (ed. 8) 3. 1768.

Type: Garden material Chelsea Garden 1727. "Saxifraga sedi folio angustiore serrato Tourn. 252. Sedum serratum J.B. Ray, Hist. vol. 2, p. 1045" Miller scripsit, selected by Webb and Gornall, Man. Saxifrag. 124. 1989. Lectotype: BM: Sloane herbarium.

Synonymy. Saxifraga aizoon Jacq., Fl. Austriac. 5: 18, t. 438. 1778.

Chondrosea aizoon (Jacq.) Haw., Saxif. Enum. 11. 1821.

Saxifraga aizoon Jacq. var. neogaea Butters, Rhodora 46: 65. 1944.

Saxifraga paniculata subsp. neogaea (Butters) D. Löve, Taxon 17: 89. 1968.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 7–20 cm high (to 25 cm high in Greenland specimens); perennial herbs; caespitose; sometimes vegetatively proliferating by bulbils on stems or leaves (lateral shoots, often closely associated with the parent shoot). Caudex absent. Aerial stems erect. Leaves present; not heterophyllous; basal in a rosette; patent (basal leaves), or erect (flowering stem leaves); alternate; persistent, or marcescent (remaining either green or reddish during the winter). Petioles absent. Leaf blades simple. Leaf blade bases truncate. Blades 7–20 mm long, 3–5.5 mm wide, oblanceolate or obovate or spatulate, flat, with inconspicuous veins. Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins serrulate or crenate, with 7–10 glands per cm (hydathodes), glabrous. Hydathodes present and conspicuous (on upper surface at the tip of each serration). Blade apices acute, or obtuse.

Reproductive morphology. Flowering stems with leaves (similar in shape but smaller than the basal leaves). Flowering stems hairy. Flowering stems pubescent. Flowering stem hairs simple; shorter than the diameter of the flowering stem; white or translucent (with brown glands on the ends); glandular hairs present. Flowers in inflorescences. Inflorescences paniculate; 1–3 cm long. Pedicels present; with glandular hairs. Flowers per inflorescence 5–20; medium-sized; radially symmetrical (actinomorphic). Sepals conventional; 5; free; 0.9–1.2 mm long; 1.5–2 mm wide; green, or purple, or red. Calyx hairy. Petals conventional; free; longer than the calyx; 5; white, or yellow (creamy); with contrasting markings (usually orange or purple spots); obovate; unlobed; 6–9 mm long; 2–2.7 mm wide. Stamens 10; stamen filaments glabrous. Anthers purple becoming yellow; sub-globose; 0.3–0.5 mm long. Nectaries present. Receptacle 0.5–1 mm high. Ovary partly inferior; carpels 2; partly fused. Ovaries glabrous. Placentation axile. Ovules per ovary 20–50 (approx.). Fruit with calyx persisting (sepals diverging); dry; a capsule; spherical, or ovoid (globose); brown; 3–6 mm long; 3.5–4.5 mm wide; dehiscent; splitting to the base into separate segments. Seeds 20–50 (approx.); 0.7–0.9 mm long; brown; surfaces smooth (at 10×, minutely roughened at 40×).

Chromosome information. 2n = 28.

(2n) (4x) = 28. Skovsted (1934); Löve and Löve (1951, 1956, Iceland); Jørgensen et al. (1958, Greenland); Packer, in Löve and Löve (1961a, Canada); Dalgaard (1989, western Greenland). Numerous more southern counts.

The basic chromosome number is most probably x = 7, as there is a deviant report of 2n = 14 from Southern Europe (Corse, see Contandriopoulos and Gamisans 1974).

Ploidy levels recorded 4x.

Indigenous knowledge. Anderson (1939) reported that this species was widely used by Eskimos in Alaska where the succulent leaves were eaten fresh or in oil. They could be preserved for long periods in oil.

Kjellman (1882) found people of Chukchi produced a form of "sauerkraut" composed largely of the leaves of Petasites and S. paniculata by tightly packing the leaves into a sealskin bag.

Porsild (1953) noted that the leaves are eaten raw with seal blubber or as "saukraut" by the Chukchi and the western Eskimo.

Taxon as an environmental indicator. Plants are indicative of dry calcareous environments. The northernmost record is from West Greenland, 74°30'N (Polunin 1940). The northernmost record from Canada is Baffin Island, Pangnirtung, 66°08'N.

Ecology and habitat. Substrates: rocks (on cliff ledges, in dry sunny situations); calcareous. Polunin (1940) noted that this species "flowers rather sparingly". Warming (1909) indicated that in Greenland this species flowers relatively late in July and exhibits marked protandry. The terminal flower is the first to open, and there are rarely more than 2 stamens functional at the same time. The styles are at first very small, with the plane surfaces of the stigmas facing each other. As they develop, they spread out. The surface of the stigmas has short club-shaped hairs. Self pollination may take place by the stigmas bending towards the anthers in which there may still be some pollen. Fruit has been observed to ripen in West Greenland.

North American distribution. Continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, northern Quebec, Labrador. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited (recorded from a few locations on Baffin Island, rare to occasional and very local). Uncommon. Low Arctic. Arctic islands: Baffin.

Northern hemisphere distribution. Amphi-Atlantic. Northern Iceland, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay, West Greenland, East Greenland.

General notes. Warming (1909) noted that the leaves after dying persist for a long time in a black, decaying condition. In northern Europe, this species belongs to a complex in which polymorphic entities have been recorded (Engler and Irmscher 1919). Polunin (1940) suggested that in the Arctic Archipelago it appears to vary very little.

Galloe (1910) noted that each tooth of the leaves has a vein that terminates in a hydathode with a large cavity. The epidermis of the hydathode has 1–2 water pores, and some of the cells are elongated as papillae. In many of the cells of the mesophyll there are quantities of tanin.

Zhmylev in Elven et al. (2003) noted this "Amphi-Atlantic, arctic-alpine, polymorphic species is widely distributed in the mountains of western and central Europe. Arctic plants differ from the typical race (2n = 28) in having longer different testa papillae and thicker raphe, marking the place of capsule dehiscence. American botanists have regarded arctic plants as S. paniculata subsp. neogaea (2n = 28). The variability of S. paniculata, however, is fairly large, so that the differences may not have any taxonomic value."

There is a discrepancy between Löve and Löve (1975), which included Iceland and Greenland plants in subsp. neogaea, and Hultén and Fries (1986), which restricted subsp. neogaea to Canada and U.S.A. (Elven in Elven et al. 2003).

Illustrations. • Habitat. Plants near the markers, growing on a rocky talus slope with Carex rupestris and Woodsia alpina. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–053. CAN 586521. • Habitat: Iqaluit. Isolated tuft of plants growing in dry Carex rupestris tundra. Nunavut, Iqaluit, upper trail to Apex. Aiken and A. Archambault 05–063, 29 July, 2005. CAN. • Habit: Iqaluit. Isolated rosettes of plants growing in dry Carex rupestris tundra. First time seen by Aiken in Iqaluit. Nunavut. Aiken and A. Archambault 05–063 29 July, 2005. CAN. • Close-up of plants. Plants with basal rosettes of leaves less than 2 cm high, growing on a rocky talus slope with Carex rupestris and Woodsia alpina. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–053. CAN 586521. • Close-up of leaves. Plants with basal rosettes of leaves less than 2 cm high. Leaves with numerous hydathodes encrusted with calcium carbonate deposits around the margins. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–053. CAN 586521. • Close-up of inflorescence. Paniculate inflorescence with the terminal flower blooming first. Note purplish sepals, white petals, and stalked glandular hairs on the flowering stem. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–053. CAN 586521. • Close-up of flowering head. Paniculate flowering head; the centre flower with white petals opening first, surrounded by buds with reddish sepals. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–053. CAN 586521. • 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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