Andromeda polifolia L.

Gillespie, Lynn J., Saarela, Jeffery M., Sokoloff, Paul C. & Bull, Roger D., 2015, New vascular plant records for the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, PhytoKeys 52, pp. 23-79 : 45-46

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scientific name

Andromeda polifolia L.


Andromeda polifolia L. Fig. 13

Common name.

Bog rosemary




This species was first reported from the Arctic Islands by Thannheiser et al. (2001; no voucher collection located for confirmation), at Johansen Bay on the southern coast of Victoria Island; however, it was not included in Aiken et al. (2007). We collected it at Johansen Bay, confirming its presence there, and along the Soper River on southern Baffin Island, extending the range of this boreal species northwards across the low Arctic islands.

Andromeda polifolia has a broad circumboreal-polar distribution, and occurs from Alaska across much of Canada and northern United States to western Greenland ( Fabijan 2009). Numerous collections have been reported from the mainland Arctic ( Porsild and Cody 1980, Saarela et al. 2013a), including sites south of Coronation Gulf across from our collection site on Victoria Island. On Victoria Island we encountered a single, large population of the species growing in dense moss-sedge mats along the sides of hummocks and polygon ridges in a hummocky, moist to wet sedge meadow on a gentle west-facing slope, in association with Dryas integrifolia , Arctous rubra , Vaccinium uliginosum , Rhododendron tomentosum subsp. decumbens , Salix reticulata , Cassiope tetragona and Carex spp. We collected the species in the Soper River valley, Baffin Island, in a large, wet and hummocky sedge meadow, growing in association with Carex rariflora , Betula glandulosa , Salix arctophila , and Luzula wahlenbergii . We observed three patches at this location, one 3 × 2 m, and two smaller ones along the edge of a pond. Our collection in this area was made on the east side of the Soper River; we also observed the species in the area on the west side of the river, but did not collect it there.

Elven et al. (2011) provisionally treat Andromeda polifolia as two subspecies-the Eurasian Andromeda polifolia subsp. polifolia and the widespread Andromeda polifolia subsp. pumila V.M. Vinogr. However, due to difficulties in circumscribing diagnostic characters this division is difficult to quantify, and they call for an in depth investigation of this taxon. Fabijan (2009) treats the species as possessing two varieties: the northern boreal-Arctic var. polifolia , and the more southern and eastern var. latifolia Aiton. Our collections would be considered as Andromeda polifolia var. polifolia following this treatment.

Specimens examined.

Canada. Nunavut: Kitikmeot Region, Victoria Island, slope at S end of unnamed lake, ca. 20 km ENE of Johansen Bay airstrip, 68°36'27"N, 110°40'35"W, 30-50 m, 16 July 2008, Gillespie, Saarela, Consaul & Bull 8002 (ALA, BABY, CAN-592360, MT, O, UBC); Qikiqtaaluk Region, Baffin Island, Katannilik Territorial Park Reserve, Soper River valley, E bank, large sedge meadow with several small ponds ca. 12.5 km south of Mount Joy, 0.5 km south of Group/Warden Cabin #7, 63°9'35"N, 69°40'3"W, 41 m, 7 July 2012, Saarela, Gillespie, Sokoloff & Bull 2186 (ALA, CAN-601935, MO, MT, O, US, WIN).