Panarctic Flora


344101 Phleum alpinum subsp. alpinum L.


Northern Iceland: Frequent
Northern Fennoscandia: Frequent
Kanin - Pechora: Frequent
Polar Ural - Novaya Zemlya: Scattered
Western Alaska: Rare
Northern Alaska - Yukon: Rare
Hudson Bay - Labrador: Rare
Western Greenland: Scattered
Eastern Greenland: Frequent
Southern Arcti Tundra: Rare
Shrub Tundra: Frequent
Bordering boreal or alpine areas: Frequent


2n= (1) 14 (2x). - Europe (C, S), Ukraine, Caucasus. - Numerous reports, the majority assigned to subsp. rhaeticum, some to diploid subsp. alpinum. Diploid in FCM, numerous populations, Fjellheim et al. (unpubl.)
(2) 28 (4x). - Europe (N, C), Russia (N), Siberia, Asia (S), Far East, Alaska, Canada, U.S.A., Greenland, South America. - Numerous reports. Tetraploid in FCM, numerous populations, Fjellheim et al. (unpubl.)
(3) 35 (5x). - Wilton and Klebesadel (1973).
(4) 56 (8x). - Europe (Norway). - Knaben and Engelskjøn (1967, "accidental autoploid strain").

Geography: Amphi-Atlantic - European & Asian (C) & amphi-Pacific - Cordilleran: ICE NOR RUS ALA CAN GRL.

Notes: Fjellheim and Elven: We have compared diploid and tetraploid European Phleum alpinum and find them different in the characters suggested by, e.g., Humphries (1978). The name P. alpinum L. is based on a type from northern Sweden, either on Herb. Linn. 81.4 "alpinum 2 Lappo" (LINN; Bowden, see below) or on a specimen in the Linnaean Lapland Herbarium (LAPP; Humphries, Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 76: 337-340. 1978). Jarvis (2007) stated that the first and valid designation of lectotype was published by Bowden in 1965 in Canad. J. Bot. 43: 286. The cited page is blank in the 1965 issue and there is no relevant paper or information by Bowden in that issue of the journal.

Tetraploids occur throughout the range in Europe, Asia, and in both North and South America, and only tetraploids are documented from northern Scandinavia. The type, irrespective of which one is correct, therefore assigns the name P. alpinum to the tetraploid taxon. Diploids are known from central, southern, and eastern Europe (incl. Ukraine), and the Caucasus and are the more frequent in these regions. Nordenskiöld (1945) suggested that the tetraploids (by him P. commutatum) could have an allopolyploid origin from the diploids (by him P. alpinum) and from hexaploid P. pratense. This suggestion was followed up by Wilton and Klebesadel (1973) who compared karyotypes of tetraploid P. alpinum (by them P. commutatum) and P. pratense s. lat. and concluded that P. alpinum was allotetraploid with one genome in common with P. pratense (see below). The question whether the diploids and tetraploids should be assigned to the same species thereby becomes relevant (see a similar case in Anthoxanthum).

Löve and Löve (1975a), for reasons not given (and erroneously), assigned the name P. alpinum to the diploids and P. commutatum to the tetraploids. Gaudin's Alpine P. commutatum shares features with the northern tetraploids (glabrous vs. ciliate awns in the more southern European diploids). The names P. alpinum L. and P. commutatum Gaud. are then most probably synonyms belonging to the tetraploid. Humphries described the more southern European, diploid race as P. alpinum subsp. rhaeticum Humphries, J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 76: 339 (1978).

The western North American plant named var. americanum might be another regional race (perhaps including the non-arctic Pacific Asian plants). Subspecies or variety americanum probably reaches the Arctic in western Alaska only, whereas all other arctic regions would have subsp. alpinum in Humphries' (1978) nomenclature. Soreng et al. (2003) synonymized var. americanum with the collective P. alpinum, not with subsp. alpinum which they accepted. A recent study comparing American and European P. alpinum s. lat. is Kula et al. (2006). They found some variation in genome size and cytomorphology among European diploids and tetraploids. The American tetraploids were morphologically and cytomorphologically nearly inseparable from the European ones.

Higher Taxa