Panarctic Flora


342205 Festuca hyperborea Holmen ex Fred.


Svalbard - Franz Joseph Land: Rare
Taimyr - Severnaya Zemlya: Rare
Yana - Kolyma: Presence uncertain
Central Canada: Scattered
Hudson Bay - Labrador: Scattered
Ellesmere Island: Scattered
Western Greenland: Rare
Eastern Greenland: Scattered
Polar desert: Scattered
Northern arctic Tundra: Frequent
Mid Arctic Tundra: Frequent
Southern Arcti Tundra: Scattered
Shrub Tundra: Rare

2n= 28 (4x). - Europe (N), Canada, Greenland. - Holmen (1952, in type specimen); Aiken et al. (1995); Guldahl et al. (2001).

Geography: Circumpolar: NOR SIB CAN GRL.

Notes: Aiken and Elven: Holmen published the name Festuca hyperborea for a tetraploid plant morphologically different from the hexaploid F. brachyphylla but he did not provide a description. The name was applied for 25 years as a nomen nudum. The lack of description resulted in consistent misunderstanding of the species and misapplication of the name. Frederiksen (1977) validated the name with a description. Still, the confusion pertained in most regions until revisions in Canada (Aiken et al. 1995), Svalbard (Fjellheim et al. 2001; Guldahl et al. 2001), and a superficial revision of Russian material (LE; Aiken and Elven unpubl.).

For some reason, Alexeev (1981, 1982, 1983, i.e., after Frederiksen's description) identified nearly all small-grown F. brachyphylla in Russia, Siberia, and the Russian Far East as F. hyperborea. Our study of the specimens in LE rather proved F. hyperborea to be very rare in these regions. We found vouchers of F. hyperborea only from the High Arctic in northernmost Taimyr, Severnaya Zemlya, and perhaps the Novosiberian Islands. All plants named by Alexeev and others as F. hyperborea from mainland Yakutia, Chukotka, and Wrangel Island were reidentified. We have omitted the majority of Russian and Siberian regions and all regions in the Russian Far East. Rønning (1972) treated the Svalbard plants in the same way as Alexeev did the Russian ones, i.e., he identified as F. hyperborea a major part of what we now consider to be F. edlundiae. After renewed study, only 5-6 localities remain for F. hyperborea in Svalbard. When studying the material in LE, we did not have access to the collections from the European Russian Arctic. The species may be present in Novaya Zemlya and perhaps Franz Joseph Land. Internal note: Check HbO for possible plants of Festuca hyperborea from Franz Joseph Land and Novaya Zemlya.

Also the chromosome number information has been confused. The counts of Sokolovskaya and Probatova referred by Tzvelev (1976) under F. hyperborea were all made on misidentified material. The vouchers (LE) represent F. edlundiae (2n = 28) and small-grown F. brachyphylla (2n = 42).

Higher Taxa