Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago


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

Huperzia selago (L. ) Bernh. ex. Schrank and Mart.

English: Northern fir-moss, mountain fir-moss,

French: Lycopode sélagine,

Inuktitut: Siqpiijautit.

Lycopodiaceae, Club moss family.

Published in Hort. Reg. Monac. 3. 1829.

Type: Selected by Jonsell and Jarvis, Nordic J. Bot. 14: 147. 1994. Lectotype: UPS: 20: Burser Herbarium 20: 52.

Synonymy. Lycopodium selago L. Sp. Pl. 1102. 1753.

Lycopodium selago L. subsp. selago.

Huperzia selago (L.) Bernh. ex Schrank & Mart. subsp. selago.

Huperzia arctica (Grossh. ex Tolm.) Sipliv. Novosti Sist. Vyssh. Rast. 10: 347. 1973.

Lycopodium selago L. subsp. arcticum Grossh. ex Tolm., Bot. Mater. Gerb. Bot. Inst. AN SSSR, 20: 39.1960.

Extensive additional synonymy Elven et al. (2003).

Vegetative morphology. Plants (1–)2–12(–15) cm high; herbs; perennial herbs; caespitose; sometimes vegetatively proliferating from gemmiphores and gemmae. Only fibrous roots present. Roots pallid-brown. Ground level or underground stems absent. Aerial stems erect (yellowish when plants are growing in direct sun, or green when plants are growing in shade). Leaves distributed along the stems; alternate; persistent. Petioles absent. Leaf blades simple. Leaf blade bases truncate. Leaves not grass-like. Blades 3–5(–7.5) mm long, 1–1.5 mm wide (plants growing on continental North America have leaves of the mature portion of the stem slightly smaller than the leaves of the juvenile portion, particularly in sun forms (Wagner and Beitel 1993)), appressed to the stem (sun forms) or spreading (shade forms) or reflexed (juvenile plants). Leaf appearance in Lycopodium spreading and crowded in pseudo-whorls. Blades straight or somewhat curled (slightly), linear or lanceolate or triangular, flat, with inconspicuous veins. Blade adaxial surface glabrous. Blade abaxial surface glabrous. Blade margins entire (to the naked eye, papillate at 10 X), glabrous; apices acute.

Reproductive morphology. Plants with sporangia, or with gemmae. Sporangia in the axils of unmodified leaves. Aerial stems circular or oval in cross-section.

Chromosome information. 2n = 260–272.

2n (6x) = More than 260. Kukkonen, in Jonsell (2001b Central Sweden).

2n = about 264. Manton (1950); Löve and Löve (1958, 1966b, northeastern USA); Löve (1970a, Iceland).

2n (6x) = 268. Wagner and Beitel (1993, Fl. N. Amer. 2, secondary reference).

2n = 272. Löve and Löve (1961 Iceland, not included by Löve and Löve 1975).

Ploidy levels recorded 6x.

Indigenous knowledge. Inuit name Siqpiijautit means, literally, "that which is used to remove siqpik" (discharge from the inner corner of the eye). When they are ripe the plants feel soft, and according to some elders they are intoxicants. (Ootoova et al. 2001).

It is reported that after drinking the black liquid from boiled siqpiijautit a person could not get up but just lay on the ground dizzy. In the past, before there were qallunaat (Europeans) and alcohol, people used to get drunk on this. People used to make tea from many different kinds of plants, but this was the only plant that induced drunkenness (Malaija, personal communication, to Ootoova et al. 2001).

Schofield (1989, p. 110) noted that this species [Lycopodium selago] should not be used internally. "It contains an alkaloid that can cause mouth pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Some Western Indian tribes are reported to have chewed stems for the intoxicating effects. Unconsciousness resulted from chewing as few as eight stems. Medicinal supervision is recommended for internal use" Schofield (1989, p. 110) quoted Maria Treben who warns "people who suffer from diarrhea should use the tea only with the greatest caution, as cramps in the intestines could result.".

Ecology and habitat. Elevation 10–1000 m (CAN 283948). Substrates: wet meadows, hummocks, snow patches, depressions of low-centre polygons; imperfectly drained moist areas, seepage slopes, moderately well-drained areas; sand, silt, clay; with high organic content, peat; acidic, or calcareous (CAN 4275), or non-calcareous (granite and gneiss). Snow areas with Cassiope (CAN 31198), dry igneous rock outcrop between bare rock outcrops, wet or moist depressions on southfacing moraine, gabbro outcrop, calcareous till veneer with heath species, tundra heath, with Dryas, Draba, and Saxifraga.

North American distribution. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited. Uncommon. Low Arctic. Arctic islands: Baffin, Devon, Ellesmere, Axel Heiberg, Parry islands (Prince Patrick), Victoria, Somerset, Southampton, Coats (Resolution and Salisbury Islands, Melville Peninsula).

General notes. Wagner (1992) reported on the difficulties of determining chromosome numbers in the Lycopodiaceae, which include the fact that the spore mother cells, in general, have very thick walls and they may be full of cytoplasmic granules and oil droplets that take up stain and may be mistaken for chromosomes. Also, the chromosomes, unlike those of most ferns, are commonly of different sizes. She stated that H. selago had once been categorised by Manton (1950) as the worst cytological object she had ever encountered. Wagner (1992) published a photomicrograph of H. selago at diakineses for the count of 2n = 134.

The Panarctic Flora project (Elven et al. 2003) has found that there are two current models for explaining the variation in the H. selago species group and that the two approaches are mutually exclusive. European-Russian treatments are based on a hypothesis of gradual divergence of races of which three were proposed as species by Tzvelev in Elven et al. (2003): H. selago, H. arctica, and H. appressa. Northwestern European authors recognise two species (H. selago, H. arctica) and tend to regard H. appressa as intermediate between selago and arctica without its own rank. When this is done appressa is included with arctica; see, for example, Kukkonen (in Jonsell 2000, Fl. Nord. 1).

Wagner and Beitel (1993) hypothesise that the variation in the genus Huperzia is caused by different combinations of original (diploid) genomes that are present in the different ploidy entities. In their 1992 paper on the generic classification of modern North American Lycopodiaceae they provided a generic classification based on 50 characters of anatomy, chromosomes, spores, and gametophytes, with states that they assigned as either primitive or derived and analysed using the methods of ground-plan-divergence cladistics (Wagner and Wagner 1980).

Wagner and Beitel (1993) treated the North American entities as species. They considered the taxa were based on two hybridisation groups, the eastern North American one containing H. selago, H. appalachiana, and their hybrid. They considered H. selago s.s. occurs in Temperate 'middle' North American material north to the south shore of Hudson Bay and perhaps northwestern parts of mainland Northwest Territories (also "Europe, Asia"). Unfortunately, the majority of the American arctic material from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, central and northern Greenland, was not included in the treatment (or maps) in Wagner and Beitel (1993).

The Russian approach is satisfactory in that it includes all arctic plants in some kind of system. It is unsatisfactory because it is not in accordance with the current evolutionary hypothesis for the genus (Holub 1983; Øllgaard 1987; and Wagner and Beitel 1992) and because it treats H. miyoshiana as different from the other elements known to be of the same 'genomic' group. The Wagner and Beitel (1993) treatment is unsatisfactory because it is not readily applicable outside North America and because it neglects most of the American arctic plants.

Illustrations. • Plants in tundra habitat: Ogac. Yellow-green plants to the left of the marker growing with Salix reticulata in a dry tundra. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. 11 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–060. CAN 586530. • Fertile and vegetative plants: Ogac. Foreground, a short fertile plant with yellow sporangia in the axils of some stem leaves. Between the markers, a vegetative plant that had been growing under the shade of tall heather plants. This site was within 20 m of the plants in the previous image. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Ogac Lake. 11 July, 2004. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–060. CAN 586530. • Close-up of fertile stem: Ogac. Note yellow sporangia in the axils of some leaves. Aiken and LeBlanc 04–060. CAN 586530. • Close-up of fertile plants. Fertile plants of Huperzia selago that have yellow sporangia borne in the axils of vivid green undifferentiated leaves. Gemmiferous branchlets developing at the shoot apices. CMN Photo Library image S84–5644. • Close-up of fruiting stem. Fertile stem of Huperzia selago with yellow sporangia borne in the axils of the stem leaves, not in a specialised cone. Photo Library images S84–5645. • Habitat: Dorset. Plants on hillside. Nunavut, Baffin Island, Cape Dorset. 7 August, 2005. Aiken. No Voucher. • Side view of plant. Plants less than 10 cm high growing in moss in a heathy tundra with Empetrum. Note A) 'holes' where gemmae have fallen off and B) gemmae are still attached. Aiken and Iles 02–049. CAN. • Leaf morphology. Contrasting leaf morphology in the three Arctic species in the Lycopodiaceae. A. Diphasiastrum alpinum. Appressed leaves with ultimate branches strictly four ranked, alternate decussate, with every pair decurrent on the stem as a pair of flanges and each flange continuous with one margin of the leaf. B. Lycopodium annotinum, leaves spreading and crowded in pseudo-whorls. C. Huperzia selago, left a vegetative leaf; right a sporophyll leaf. • 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.