Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago
English: Nard sedge,
French: Carex à odeur de nard, carex nard,
Inuktitut: Iviit, ivisuka, ivitsuskaka.
Cyperaceae, Sedge family.
Published in Novit. Fl. Suec., Mant. 2: 55. 1839.
Type: Described from northern Sweden.
Synonymy. Carex hepburnii Boott in Hooker, Fl. Bor.-Amer. 209. 1839.
Carex nardina Fr. var. hepburnii (Boott) Kükenthal, in Engl., Pflanzenreich IV.20, 38 [Cyper. Caricoid.] : 70. 1909.
Carex nardina Fr. subsp. hepburnii (Boott) A. Löve, D. Löve and B.M. Kapoor, Arct. Alp. Res. 3, 2: 145. 1971.
Carex nardina Fr. var. atriceps Kükenthal, Feddes Repert. 8: 7. 1910.
Carex stantonensis M.E. Jones, Univ. Bull. Montana, 61. 20. 1910.
Carex elyniformis A.E. Porsild, Sargentia, iv. 17. 1943.
Vegetative morphology. Plants (5–)10–30 cm high; perennial herbs; caespitose; in dense single compact tufts. Only fibrous roots present. Roots red-brown. Ground level or underground stems absent. Aerial stems erect, or decumbent; filiform (0.3–0.5 mm in diameter). Leaves mainly basal; alternate; marcescent. Petioles absent. Sheaths present; persisting; forming a conspicuous build-up at the base of the plant; greyish brown, or brown; sheath collars absent. Ligules present (slight). Leaves grass-like. Blades (50–)100–150(–200) mm long, 0.2–0.3 mm wide (filiform). Leaves filiform. Blades straight, linear, involute or channelled, veins parallel. Blade adaxial surface scabrous (or scaberulous, with rows of stiff trichomes). Blade margins scabrous (scaberulous).
Reproductive morphology. Plants monoecious. Flowering stems two or more per plant. Flowering stems circular or oval in cross section. Flowering stems shorter than the leaves, or about as high as the leaves, or conspicuously taller than the leaves; without leaves. Leaf or reduced bract subtending the base of the inflorescence absent. Inflorescences head-like (subglobose); globose or sub-globose; 0.5–1.2 cm long; 3–6 mm wide. Cladoprophylls present. Inflorescence unispicate. Individual spike(s) erect. Terminal spike staminate at the apex. Floral scales shorter than the perigynium in fruit (but as wide); brown, or orange-brown; with margins and sometimes midvein paler in colour than the adjacent area of the scale (midvein is slightly raised); ovate (as wide as long); 3–4 mm long; glabrous; apex obtuse. Flowers unisexual. Staminate flowers inconspicuous (except at anthesis). Perianth represented by a perigynium. Sepals modified (but not a pappus). Stamens present (staminate flowers), or absent (pistillate flowers); 3. Anthers 1.5–2 mm long. Ovary superior; carpels 3; syncarpous. Perigynia contracted at the base into a stipe. Styles 2; partially fused; slender, not extending beyond the beak. Stigmas per ovary 2. Placentation basal. Ovules per ovary 1. Fruit surrounded by a perigynium. Perigynia fused to the apex except for a small aperture through which the style protrudes; broadly ovate; 3.3–3.7(–5) mm long; 1.4–1.7(–2) mm wide; erect or ascending; green (when young), or straw-coloured, or brown (towards the apex when mature); membranous; surface dull; glabrous (but slightly serrulate at the apex); appearing veinless; with 2 keels (scaberulous on the keels); apices beaked with a short beak (beak tip brown or hyaline); apex oblique, becoming slightly bidentate. Fruit sessile; dry; an achene; indehiscent. Achenes lenticular; not filling the upper part of the perigynia. Seeds 1.
Chromosome information. 2n = 66 and 70.
2n = 68 and 70.
Carex nardina Fr. subsp. nardina
2n = 68. Engelskjøn and Knaben (1971, northern Norway);
2n = 70. Löve and Löve (1956, Iceland).
Carex nardina Fr. subsp. hepburnii (Boott) Á. Löve, D. Löve, and B. M. Kapoor
2n = 68 and 70.
2n = 68. Jørgensen et al. (1958, Greenland); Hedberg (1967, northern Canada); Johnson and Packer (1968, northwestern Alaska); Knaben (1968, Alaska); Löve et al. (1971, western North America); Löve (1981d, central Canada);
2n = about 70. Holmen (1952, Greenland);
2n = 70. Zhukova (1982, northeastern Asia); Zhukova and Petrovsky (1972, northeastern Asia).
Ecology and habitat. Substrates: lakeshores (on raised sandy beach ridges), slopes (often dry and gravelly talus), cliffs (rocky outcrops, dry sandy shelves, or turfy ledges); dry; rocks, gravel, sand, silt, till; with low organic content; calcareous. Can be found on the edges of Dryas mounds in dry habitats. Typical geologic features of the habitat are moraines and kames.
North American distribution. Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories Islands, continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, continental Nunavut, northern Quebec, Labrador. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago widespread. Common. Arctic, alpine. Arctic islands: Baffin, Devon, Ellesmere, Axel Heiberg, and Parry islands (Melville), Banks (a collection at Sachs Harbour is a range extension since Porsild 1957), Victoria, Somerset, Southampton, and Coats.
Northern hemisphere distribution. Amphi-Atlantic, or amphi-Beringian, or North American. Northern Iceland, Svalbard Franz Joseph Land, West Chukotka, Wrangel Island, East Chukotka, West Alaska, North Alaska Yukon, Central Canada, Labrador Hudson Bay, Ellesmere Land Peary Land, West Greenland, East Greenland.
General notes. In the vegetative state this species may be difficult to distinguished from Kobresia myosuroides.
Polunin (1940) discusses why he considered specimens in the eastern Arctic to be var. hepburnii (Boott) Kükenthal, but recognition of the variety has not been widely taken up in North America. Polunin (1940) had observed the species in Arctic Bay, Baffin Island, where it dominated the slightly damp but by no means sheltered lower slopes around the head of the bay. Plants there were growing sometimes a full 20 cm high, and looked far more luxuriant than any typical C. nardina.
Porsild (1957) indicated that the species was represented in the Canadian Arctic by the eastern race, var. atriceps Kükenthal and distinguished from var. nardina by its taller growth and less curved culms and leaves. This is no longer considered to be a recognisable entity (P. Ball, University of Toronto, personal communication, 1997).
Murray (2002), in Flora of North America, reported that "much has been written about variation in Carex nardina, but little has been resolved. Russian taxonomists have long maintained that C. nardina is a species restricted to Iceland, Svalbard, Norway, and Sweden and is distinct at the rank of species from C. hepburnii (T.V. Egorova 1999). The differences between perigynia, cited by Egorova and well illustrated in Cronquist (1969), can define two taxa which have been viewed as minor variations (Hultén 1958) or good species. The Scandinavian material does appear to constitute a single taxon C. nardina."
Murray (2002) considers that although the clear geographic limits designated by Porsild (1943) are not found, both forms are found in North America, differing as follows (key derived from Murray 2002):
Perigynia shape: ovate or spindle-shaped; size (3-)3.5–5 × 1.4–1.6 mm; beak formation and size: gradually formed, 0.5 mm, obscure to 0.4 mm; stipe formation and size: distinct, 0.5–1 mm... C. nardina
Perigynia shape: obovate or broadly elliptic, size 3–5 × 1.5–2 mm; beak formation and size: obscure to 0.4 mm; stipe formation and size obscure, less than 0.2 mm...C. hepburnii.
Recorded by S. Aiken from herbarium specimens collected in the Arctic islands before the possibility of C. hepburnii was known:
Perigynia shape: broadly ovate: size 3.3–3.7 × 1.4–1.7 mm; beaked with a short beak; contracted at the base into a stipe-like structure. The data suggest the taxon described is closer to C. nardina.
David Murray (personal communication, June 2001), after examining specimens together with Aiken in Stockholm, 2001, noted that both C. nardina and C. hepburnii occur in North America. The problem requires further study, especially among specimens collected from northern Quebec and southern Baffin Island. These overlapped in the characters traditionally used to distinguish the subspecies.
Egorova (1999) and Elven et al. (2003) considered unresolved as to whether C. nardina s.s. (excluding 'hepburnii') is a narrow North Atlantic entity (Iceland, Northern Scandinavia) or whether it also occurs in North America and elsewhere in the Arctic. If the narrow concept is followed, the plants in the CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna) area become C. nardina subsp. hepburnii (Boott) Á. Löve, D. Löve, and B.M. Kapoor, Arct. Alp. Res. 3, 2: 145. 1971. They represent a major geographical race (the most major one). The 'hepburnii' entity is typified from Canada: Rocky Mountains, leg. Drummond, type in K.
Subspecies have not been recognised in this treatment because of the overlapping characters observed in specimens form the eastern Arctic islands.
Illustrations. • Habitat. Tightly tufted plants growing on stony tundra at top of hill. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Iqaluit. 26 August, 1997. Aiken 97–040. CAN. • Habitat. Plants between the markers, growing in dry rocky ericaceous tundra. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. 11 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–055. CAN 586524. • Close-up of plants. Densely cespitose plants less than 15 cm high with build-up of dead sheaths at the base. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. 11 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–055. CAN 586524. • Sheath build-up. Pressed specimen of previous plant showing cespitose habit with a dense build-up of marcescent leaf bases. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. 11 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–055. CAN 586524. • Close-up of young spike. Unispicate inflorescence with staminate flowers at the apex. Floral scales have a conspicuously pale mid-vein at this stage and are longer than the perigynia in both flower and fruit. Stigmas per style 2. Nunavut, Inugsuin Fiord. CAN 301907. • Close-up of inflorescence. Unispicate inflorescence staminate at the apex. Perigynia glabrous, apices with a short beak. Achenes not filling the upper portion of the perigynia. Stigmas 2. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–055. CAN 586524. • Close-up of mature inflorescence. Unispicate inflorescence staminate at the apex. Perigynia mostly glabrous but scaberulous on the keels and slightly serrulate at the apex, apices with a short beak. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–055. CAN 586524. • Close-up of dried inflorescences. Inflorescences from herbarium collections of plants shown live in the previous images. The contrast between the colours of floral scales and perigynia were more pronounced after the inflorescence had dried. 11 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–055. CAN 586524. • 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..