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

Salix herbacea L.

English: Snowbed willow,

French: Saule herbacé,

Inukitut: Quarait (Baffin Island), qupirrulik (Nunavik).

Salicaceae, Willow family.

Published in Sp. Pl. 2: 1018. 1753.

Type: Northern Sweden, selected by Jonsell and Jarvis, Nordic J. Bot. 14: 151. 1994. Lectotype: LINN: 1158.40.

Vegetative morphology. Plants 0.5–5 cm high; shrubs; dwarf shrubs; forming colonies by rhizomes. Aerial stems erect. Branches red-brown, or violet; not glaucous, or weakly glaucous; glabrous. Branchlets yellow-brown, or red-brown; not glaucous, or weakly glaucous; glabrous. Buds arctica-type. Leaves present; distributed along the stems; alternate; dying annually and non-persistent. Stipules absent. Petioles 1.5–7 mm long; convex to flat in cross section, or deeply concave in cross section; glabrous. Juvenile leaves yellowish green; glabrous. Leaf blades simple. Leaf blade bases cordate, or obtuse (sub-cordate), or rounded (rarely). Blades 6–21(–34) mm long, length-width ratio 0.9–1.4, 6–17(–31) mm wide, circular or elliptic (broadly elliptic to sub-circular, or wider than long). Blade adaxial surface shiny, glabrous. Blade abaxial surface not glaucous, glabrous. Blade margins flat. Blade margins crenate (crenulate), with teeth all around the blade, with teeth per cm 7–20; apices rounded, or retuse.

Reproductive morphology. Plants dioecious. Inflorescences catkins. Pedicels absent. Catkins arising from sub-apical buds; flowering as leaves emerge. Male catkins 2–7.5 mm long; 1.5–6 mm wide; stout, or sub-globose, or globose; peduncles 0.25–2 mm long; borne on a flowering branchlet; flowering branchlets 0.25–2 mm long. Female catkins 3.25–13 mm long; 2–10 mm wide; stout, or sub-globose, or globose; peduncles 0.25–4 mm long; borne on a flowering branchlet; flowering branchlets 0.75–3.5 mm long. Floral bracts tawny, or light rose, or brown; 0.5–1.5 mm long; glabrous (fringed at apex); apices rounded, or retuse, or truncate; apices entire. Flowers unisexual. Sepals absent. Petals absent. Stamens 2; stamen filaments glabrous, or hairy on lower half. Anthers purple becoming yellow; short-cylindrical, or sub-globose; 0.3–0.6 mm long. Male flowers abaxial nectaries present. Male flowers adaxial nectaries oblong, or ovate; 0.6–1.1 mm long; nectaries distinct, or connate and cup-shaped. Female flowers abaxial nectaries absent, or present. Female flowers adaxial nectaries narrowly oblong, or oblong; 0.3–1.1 mm long; longer than stipes, or shorter than stipes. Ovary carpels 2. Stipes 0.28–1.12 mm long. Ovaries pear-shaped, or ovate; abruptly tapering to style; glabrous. Styles 0.2–0.4 mm long (entire or bifid). Stigma lobes 0.08–0.24–0.32 mm long. Ovules per ovary 11–18. Fruit a capsule; 2.2–7.5 mm long; glabrous.

Chromosome information. 2n = 38.

2n (2x) = 38. Marklund, in Holmberg (1931 northern Europe); Engelskjøn (1979, Norway); Engelskjøn and Knaben (1971 Norway); Löve and Löve (1966b, Mt. Washington, USA; in Löve 1982a, Nueltin Lake, Manitoba); Laane (1967).

Ploidy levels recorded 2x.

Ecology and habitat. A dwarf, mat-forming shrub usually growing so that only the tips of its branches appear above the moss or tundra. Typically in snowbeds and other places with good snow protection. Sometimes on well-drained river banks, sandy beaches, granite boulder ridges, steep bouldery slopes, or in marshes. It is usually on non-calcareous substrates, but it can grow in places exposed to sea-spray. Elevation 50–120 ft.

North American distribution. Continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Arctic islands: Baffin, Southampton, Coats (Nottingham, Prince Charles, and Salisbury).

Northern hemisphere distribution. Amphi-Atlantic. Northern Iceland, Northern Fennoscandian, Kanin–Pechora, Svalbard – Franz Joseph Land, Central Canada, Labrador – Hudson Bay, Ellesmere Land – Peary Land, West Greenland, East Greenland.

General notes. Salix herbacea is a dwarf species, with most of its branching underground (rhizomatous), often only the tips of the branchlets appear above the surface; leaves broad, crenulate, and lack stipules; catkins short, few-flowered and borne at the tips of normal vegetative shoots.

The distribution of S. herbacea is amphi-Atlantic (Hultén 1958). Populations at the eastern end of Great Bear Lake and western end of Great Slave Lake appear to be small, disjunct populations. During the late-glacial period it was known to occur as far south in North America as Cambridge, Massachusetts, where leaves were found in a kettle moraine (Argus and Davis 1962).

An excellent report by Beerling (1998) dealing with all aspects of the biology, ecology, distribution, anatomy, morphology, taxonomy, etc. of Salix herbacea was written for the Biological Flora of the British Isles.

Hybrids

S. herbacea × S. uva-ursi (Salix ×peasei Fernald). This hybrid was described as a species of hybrid origin from Mount Washington, New Hampshire (Fernald 1917), but most authors regard it as a hybrid. It combines characters of the parental species: it is coarser than S. herbacea and has thick, trailing stems; its leaves are crenate as in S. herbacea; but its longer catkins resemble S. uva-ursi. Polunin (1940) reports it from Chesterfield Inlet. He also includes it in the key and illustrates it in his Circumpolar Arctic Flora (Polunin 1959).

Illustrations. • Habitat: plants in fall colours. Plants with brown or green leaves and puffs of willow cotton. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Tarr Inlet sunny slope. 20 August, 2006. Aiken. No voucher. • Habitat, female plant: Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. Female plants growing near the markers and on the adjacent tundra. Note, there is no evidence of red wasp galls that were common on male plants growing about 4 m away (next image). Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. 8 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–023. CAN 586496. • Habitat, male plants: Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. Male plants growing in snow patches on an otherwise dry rocky slope. Catkins with and without red wasp galls. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. 8 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–023. CAN 586496. • Habitat. Plant forming a mat in moss on quartzite talus. Quebec, Richmond Gulf. 22 July, 1983.Photograph by George Argus. • Close-up of female plants. Plants less than 3 cm high with tiny female catkins. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. 8 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–023. CAN 586496. • Habit and Habitat. A dwarf shrub with stems intertwined in the tundra. The leaves are glabrous, shiny and broadly elliptic to sub-circular. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Iqaluit. August, 1997. Aiken and Chery McJannet 97020. CAN. • Habitat. A dwarf shrub with stems intertwined in the tundra. The leaves are glabrous, shiny and broadly elliptic to sub-circular. Norway, Bjornoya Island, Bear Island. J.M. Gillett slide number 82316. • Close-up of catkins and leaves. Catkins, a cluster of flowers borne on a short, leafy flowering branchlet with a pair of leaves. The leaves are glabrous, shiny and broadly elliptic to sub-circular. This species is only one of two species in the Arctic, the other being S. reticulata, in which almost every vegetative shoot ends in a catkin. Quebec, Richmond Gulf. 22 July, 1983. Photograph by George Argus. • Female inflorescence. Side view of female inflorescence with the ovary tapering to the blunt apex and style. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Soper River Valley. Aiken 2002. No voucher. • Close-up of ripe female catkins. Female catkins composed of three mature and swelling capsules. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Iqaluit. 24 July 2005. Photograph Kathy Thornhill. • Close-up of male catkin. Male catkin with rose coloured floral bracts, 2 anthers per flower, anthers that are originally purple but become yellow. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–023. 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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