• Back to Encyclopedia Arctica homepage

    Canadian Eastern Arctic

    Encyclopedia Arctica 6: Plant Sciences (Regional)

    Canadian Eastern Arctic

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0007                                                                                                                  
    (EA-Plant Sciences. Nicholas Polunin)




    Introduction 1
    The Flora 3
    The Vegetation 13
    Ellesmere Island 14
    Devon, Cornwallis, and Somerset Islands 25
    Northern Baffin Island 32
    Central Baffin Island 39
    Southern Baffin Island 46
    Melville Peninsula 58
    Northernmost Labrador 65
    Northernmost Quebec 75
    Islands in Hudson and Ungava Bays 95
    West Coast of Hudson Bay 115
    Bibliography 130

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_VI-0008                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic



            With the manuscript of this article, the author submitted 99

    photographs for possible use as illustrations. Because of the high

    cost of reproducing them as halftones in the printed volume, only a

    small proportion of the photographs submitted by contributors to

    Encyclopedia Arctica can be used, at most one or two with each paper;

    in some cases none. The number and selection must be determined later

    by the publisher and editors of Encyclopedia Arctica . Meantime all

    photographs are being held at The Stefansson Library.

    001      |      Vol_VI-0009                                                                                                                  
    EA-Plant Sciences

    (Nicholas Polunin)





            The area to be considered here includes the land and adjacent waters of

    Canada lying north of the 60th parallel of latitude and east of the 95th

    meridian, with the exception of Axel Heiberg Island, Boothia Peninsula, and

    some inland parts of Keewatin. To the east lies Greenland. The land adjacent

    to the west of the area thus delimited will for the present purpose be con–

    sidered as belonging to the Canadian Western Arctic, whereas that lying im–

    mediately to the south in Ungava and Labrador is treated separately. This

    delimitation was a mere arbitrary one of temporary convenience, as is the

    subdivision of the resulting “Eastern Arctic” area into the following ten

    “major districts” (see Fig. 1 and cf. ref. 46, pp. 1-11):

    1. Ellesmere Island

    2. Devon, Cornwallis, and Somerset Islands

    3. Northern Baffin Island

    4. Central Baffin Island

    5. Southern Baffin Island

    6. Melville Peninsula

    7. Northernmost Labrador

    8. Northernmost Quebec

    9. Islands in Hudson and Ungava Bays

    10. West Coast of Hudson Bay (Keewatin)

    001a      |      Vol_VI-0010                                                                                                                  

    Figure 1. Sketch-map showing subdivisions of the Canadian Eastern Arctic as follows:

    (1) Ellesmere; (2) Devon, Cornwallis, and Somerset Islands; (3) Northern Baffin;

    (4) Central Baffin; (5) Southern Baffin; (6) Melville Peninsula; (7) Northernmost

    Labrador; (8) Northernmost Quebec; (9) Islands in Hudson and Ungava Bays;

    (10) West Coast of Hudson Bay (Keewatin).

    002      |      Vol_VI-0011                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            The total land area involved (including freshwater lakes) is of the order of

    half a million square miles. To this should now be added as belonging to

    the Arctic proper, the Kogaluk and Payne River regions as delimited in the

    article “Flora and Vegetation in Quebec and Labrador between 55° and 60° N.”

    and also part of the Labrador Peninsula, lying immediately south of the

    60th parallel as described in the introductory article “General Botany.”

            Both the flora (45; 55) and the vegetation (46) of the Canadian Eastern

    Arctic have been treated recently in some detail, so the present account

    will be for the most part a resume of more extensive works published elsewhere,

    although with the addition of data accumulated since they were written (42;

    44). The area concerned will for brevity henceforth be styled “our” or “the”

    area; the photographs were all taken by the author, but acknowledgement for

    their re-use in many cases is due to the National Museum of Canada and in some

    to the Journal of Ecology. The more extensive works, cited fully in the bib–

    liography, are widely available and can of course be referred to if further

    details are desired — for example, about the geographical delimitation and

    climate as well as the physiographic features and geology of the major dis–

    tricts, the position and character of various “stations,” the ecology and

    distribution of individual plant species, or the habitat and composition of

    the main plant communities.

            Among abbreviations and symbols it may be noted that “agg.” stands

    for aggregate and “s.l.” for sensu lato , i.e., in the wide sense. The fol–

    lowing frequency degrees are commonly used: d = dominant, cod = codominant,

    subd = subdominant, a = abundant, f = frequent, o = occasional, r = rare,

    v = very, and l = local.

    003      |      Vol_VI-0012                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic



            In spite of the long line of investigators, the flora of our area,

    especially of the “lower” groups of plants, is still very imperfectly known.

    Considerable tracts remain unvisited by civilized man, and vast areas have

    never been seen by a trained botanist. Nevertheless we now know the con–

    siderably more than three hundred species and almost a hundred additional

    intraspecific entities (i.e., delimitable subspecies, varieties, and formae )

    of vascular plants from the area as a whole. This complement of species

    includes a few that are reported on good authority but needful of final con–

    firmation, but excludes several that are considered more doubtful either as

    reports or as claimants to specific rank. It also excludes, as previously

    explained, a number of species that are known to occur in arctic areas south

    of the 60th parallel.

            The total number of families of vascular plants so far known from the

    Canadian Eastern Arctic north of the 60th parallel is 37, as indicated in

    the following paragraphs which list the recorded species and, after each, the

    major districts (by numbers) in which it is known to occur. Such generalize–

    tions as “all districts” mean what they say, but not necessarily that the

    species is really ubiquitous, any more than occurrence in a district indicates

    that the species concerned is found throughout that district. The names of

    additional intraspecific entities recognized from anywhere in the area are given

    in parentheses after the species concerned; their taxonomy is discussed and

    their range indicated in more detailed works — especially Botany of the Can–

    adian Eastern Arctic, Part I (ref. 45, and a projected new edition) on which

    the order and nomenclature of the following list are primarily based.

    004      |      Vol_VI-0013                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    Artificial keys to and brief descriptions of, the families and genera repre–

    sented, and sufficient details of the individual species for their delimita–

    tions (with illustrations in representative cases), are given in the article

    on “Vascular Plants.”

            POLYPODIACEAE: Woodsia ilvensis , ?4,5,7; W. alpina , 1,4,9; W. glabella ,

    1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8; Cystopteris fragilis (s.l.), 1,3,4,5,7,8,9; Dryopteris

    , 7; D. fragrans , all except 2; total 6.

            EQUISETACEAE: Equisetum arvense , all districts; E. variegatum , 1,3,4,5,6,7,

    8,9; E. scirpoides , 5,7,9; total 3.

            LYCOPODIACEAE: Lycopodium selago , all districts; L. annotinum var. alpestre ,

    4,5,10; total 2.

            POTAMOGETONACEAE: Zostera marina , 10; Potamogeton filiformis (and var.

    borealis), 8,10; total 2.

            SCHEUCHZERIACEAE: Triglochin palustre , 10; only 1.

            GRAMINEAE: Hierochloe odorata , 7; H. alpina (and f. soperi ), all districts;

    H. pauciflora , 2,3,?4,5,6,8,9,10; Alopecurus alpinus , all districts;

    Arctagrostis latifolia (and f. aristata and var. longiglumis ), all dis–

    tricts; Agrostis borealis , 4,5,7,8,10; Calamagrostis deschampsioides ,

    10; C. purpurascens (and var. maltei ), 3; C. canadensis var. scabra ,

    ?2,5,7,8; C. neglecta var. borealis , 2,4,7,8,9,10; C. inexpansa , ?8;

    Deschampsia brevifolia , 1,2,3,6,9; D. alpina , 5,7; D. pumila , 1,2,4,5,

    8,10; D. flexuosa var. montana , 7; D. caespitosa var. littoralis (agg.),

    1,4,5,7,8,9,10; Vahlodea atropurpurea , ?2,8; Trisetum spicatum (and var.

    maidenii and var. molle ), all districts; Phippsia algida (and f. vestita ),

    1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9; Pleuropogon sabinii , 1,2,3,4,5,6,?7,8,9; Poa abbreviata ,

    005      |      Vol_VI-0014                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    1,2,3,6,9; P. nascopieana , 4; P. laxa (s.l.), 8; P. glauca (and var.

    tenuior ), all districts; P. hartzii (and var. vivipara ), 1, ?2; P. arc

    tica (and var. vivipara ), all districts; P. pratensis (s.l.) (and f.

    prolifera ), 1,?2,3,4,5,7,8,9,10; P. alpina (and f. brevifolia ), ?3,4,5,?6,

    7,8,9; P. labradorica , 7; Colpodium fulvum (and f. aristatum and var.

    effusum and var. effusum f. depauperatum ), 4,5,8,9,10; Dupontia fisheri

    (and f. psilosantha and f. micrantha and var. aristata ), all districts;

    Puccinellia phryganodes , all except 6; P. paupercula , 2,3,4,5,?6,7,8,9,

    10; P. angustata (agg.), all districts; P. vahliana , 1,2,3,5,7,9;

    Festuca rubra (and var. arenaria and var. mutica ), 7,8,9; F. vivipara

    var. hirsuta , 8; F. brachyphylla (and f. flavida ), all districts;

    F. baffinensis , 1,3,5,6,8,9; Agropyron violaceum var. hyperarcticum ,

    1,3,?8; Elymus arenarius var. villosus (and var. villosissimus ), all

    except 1; total 41.

            CYPERACEAE: Eriophorum scheuchzeri , all districts; E. chamissonis (s.l.)

    f. albidum 3,?4,5,?9,10; E. spissum , 3,4,5,6,7,8,8,10; E. callitrix ,

    3,4,5,7,8,9,10; E. angustifolium (and var. alpinum and var. triste ), all

    districts; Scirpus caespitosus var. callosus , 5,8; Heleocharis acicularis

    (and f. submersa ), 5,8,10; Kobresia myosuroides , 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9; K. sim

    pliciuscula , 1,2,3,5,7,8,9,10; Carex nardina (and var. hepburnii ), all

    districts; C. capitata (s.l.), 5; C. maritima (s.l.) (and f. inflata and

    var. setina ), all except 7; C. gynocrates , 5,?6,7; C. chordorrhiza ,

    5,8,9,10; C. ursina , all districts; C. lachenalii , ?1,?2,3,4,5,6,7,8,

    9,10; C. glareosa (and var. amphigena ), ?1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10; C. mac

    kenziei , 10; C. canescens , 8; C. macloviana , 8; C. supina , 3,5,9,10;

    C. rupestris , all except 4; C. scirpoidea (s.l.), all except 1;

    006      |      Vol_VI-0015                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    C. glacialis , 1,4,5,7,8,9; C. bicolor , 7,8,9,10; C. vaginata , 5,?6,7,8,

    9,10; C. capillaris (and f. minima and var. porsildiana ), 1,4,5,6,7,8,

    9,10; C. williamsii , 8,9,10; C. atrofusca , all districts; C. misandra

    (and f. flavida ), all districts; C. rariflora (and f. erecta ), 4,5,6,7,8,

    9,10; C. norvegica , 4,5,7,8,10; C. holostoma , 4,5,?6,8,9,10; C. bige

    lowii , all except 1; C. aquatilis (and var. stans ), all except 7;

    C. paleacea , 8; C. salina (and var. subspathacea ), 2,3,4,5,?6,7,8,9,10;

    C. microglochin , 4,5,8,10; C. saxatilis (and var. miliaris ), 5,8,9,10;

    C. physocarpa , 5,?6,?7,9,10; C. membranacea , all districts; total 41.

            JUNCACEAE: Luzula spadicea (and var. wahlenbergii ), 4,5,8,9,10; L. nivalis

    (and f. nana ), all districts; L. confusa , all districts; L. spicata ,

    4,5,7,8; L. suedetica , 8,10; Juncus trifidus , 5,7,8; J. arcticus ,

    ?4,5,7,8,9,10; J. biglumis , all districts; J. albescens , all except 6;

    J. castaneus , 2,3,4,5,7,8,9,10; total 10.

            LILIACEAE: Tofieldia pusilla , ?4,5,7,8,9,10; T. coccinea , 2,3,8; total 2.

            ORCHIDACEAE: Habenaria obtusata var. collectanea , 8; Corallorrhiza trifida ,

    10; total 2.

            SALICACEAE: Salix reticulata (and f. oblongifolia ), all except 1; S. vestita ,

    9; S. uva-ursi , ?4,5,7,8; S. herbacea , all except 1; S. arctica (s.l.)

    (and var. kophophylla ), all districts; S. arctophila , 1,3,4,5,7,8,9,10;

    S. hudsonensis , 8,9,10; S. fullertonensis , 8,?9,10; S. glauca (s.l.)

    (and var. stenolepis ), 4,5,?7,8,9,10; S. cordifolia (and var. callicarpaea

    and f. tonsa and var. macounii ), ?2,4,5,7,8,?9,10; S. richardsoni var.

    mckeandii , 3,4,?5,6,?7,?8,9,10; S. calcicola (and var. nicholsiana ), 4,5,

    7,8,9,10; S. alaxensis , 6,8,9,10; S. planifolia (agg.) 5,?9,10;

    total 14.

    007      |      Vol_VI-0016                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            BETULACEAE: Betula glandulosa var. sibirica , ?2,4,5,7,8,9,10; B. nana , 4;

    total 2.

            POLYGONACEAE: Koenigia islandica , 2,3,4,5,7,8,9,10; Oxyria digyna , all

    districts; Polygonum viviparum (and f. alpinum ), all district; total 3.

            PORTULACACEAE: Montia lamprosperma , 4,5,7,8,?9,10; only 1.

            CARYOPHYLLACEAE: Silene acaulis var. escapa , all districts; Lychnis affinis

    (s.l.), all districts; L. triflora , 4; L. apetala (and f. palea ), all

    districts; L. alpina , 7; Cerastium alpinum (s.l.), all districts;

    C. berringianum , ?3,?5,9,10; C. regelii , 1,2,?3,?4,6; C. arvense , 8;

    C. cerastoides , 7,8,9; Stellaria longipes (s.l.) (and f. humilis and var.

    subvestita ), all districts; S. calycantha , 8; S. crassifolia , 5,7,8,9,10;

    S. humifusa , all districts; Arenaria peploides (and var. diffusa ), 3,4,5,

    7,8,9,10; A. humifusa , 1,3,5,8,9; A. rubella (and f. epilis ), all dis–

    tricts; A. rossii (and var. daethiana ), 1,2,3,6,9; A. uliginosa (and f.

    albina ), 3,5,8,9,10; A. sajanensis , 4,5,6,7,8,9; Sagina nodosa f. bul

    billosa , 5; S. saginoides , ?6,7,9,10; S. caespitosa , ?3,4,5,7,8,9;

    S. intermedia , all except 6; total 24.

            RANUNCULACEAE: Anemone parviflora var. grandiflora , 7,8; A. richardsoni , 8;

    Ranunculus trichophyllus var. eradicatus , 3,5,7,8,9,10; R. pallasii , 5,8;

    R. hyperboreus (and var. turquetilianus ), all districts; R. lapponicus ,

    4,5,?6,8,10; R. reptans , 10; R. nivalis (and f. subglobosus ), all except

    10; R. sulphureus , 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,?8,9; R. pygmaeus , all except 10;

    R. sabinii , 1,2,4; R. allenii , 7,9; R. pedatifidus var. leiocarpus , 1,3,

    4,5,?6,7,8,9,10; Thalictrum alpinum , 7; Coptis groenlandica , 5; total 15.

            PAPAVERACEAE: Papaver radicatum (and var. albiflorum ), all districts; only 1.

    008      |      Vol_VI-0017                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            CRUCIFERAE; Cochlearia officinalis (s.l.) var. groenlandica (and var. oblongi

    folia and var. arctica ), all districts; Eutrema edwardsii , all districts;

    Cardamine bellidifolia (and f. laxa ), all districts; C. pratensis var.

    angustiofolia (and var. palustris ), all districts; C. richardsonii , 10;

    Lesquerella arctica , 1,2,3,5,6,9; Draba alpine (s.l.) (and var. nana and

    inflatisiliqua and var. gracilescens ), 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,?10; D. sub

    capitata , 1,2,3,6,9; D. fladnizensis (s.l.) (and f. glabrata ), all dis–

    tricts; D. fernaldiana , 9; D. crassifolia , ?4,5,7,8,?9; D. nivalis ,

    all districts; D. norvegica var. hebecarpa , ?5,7,?9; D. glabella (and

    var. brachycarpa ), 2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10; D. cinerea , 1,2,3,5,6,9,10’ Arabis

    arenicola (and var. pubescens ), 1,5,6,8,9,10; A. alpine , ?2,4,5,7,8,9;

    Erysimum pellasii (and f. himilum ), 1,2,3; Braya purpurascens (and var.

    dubia ), all except 10; Parrya arctica , 2,6,9; total 20.

            Crassulaceae: Sedum rosea , 4,7,?8; only 1.

            Saxifragaceae: Saxifraga rivularis , all districts; S. cernua (and var. exil

    ioides and f. latibracteata and f. bulbillosa and f. ramosa ), all districts;

    S. caespitosa subsp. encaespitosa (and f. uniflora and subsp. exaratoides ),

    all districts; S. foliolosa , all districts; S. hieracifolia , 2,3,4,6;

    S. nivalis (and f. labradorica ), all districts; S. tenuis , 1,3,4,5,7,8,9;

    S. aizoides , 1,5,6,7,8,9; S. tricuspidata (and f. subintegrifolia ), all

    except 7; S. flagellaris (s.l.), 1,2,?6; S. hirculus (and var. propinqua ),

    all except 7; S. aizoon subsp. euaizoon , 3,4,5; S. oppositifolia (and f.

    pulvinata ), all districts; Chrysosplenium tetrandrum , all districts;

    Parnassia kotzebuei , 5,7,8; P. palustris var. neogaea , 10; total 16.

            Rosaceae: Rubus chameomorus , 5,8,9,10; Potentilla crantzii , ?2,4,7,8,9;

    P. hyparctica (and var. elatior and f. tardinix ), all districts; P. nivea

    009      |      Vol_VI-0018                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    (s.l.) (and var. pallidior and var. subquinata ), ?1,3,4,5,7,8,9,10;

    P. rubricaulis , 1,2,3,?6; P. vahliana , 1,3,4,6,8,9,10; P. pulchella

    (and var. elatior ), 1,2,3,5,6,8,9,10; P. egedii (and var. groenlandica ),

    5,7,8,10; P. palustris, 7,8,10; Sibbaldia procumbens , ?4,;

    Dryas integrifolia (and f. intermedia and f. canescens ), all districts;

    total 11.

            LEGUMINOSAE: Astragalus eucosmus , 5,8; A. alpinus , 2,3,5,6,7,8,9,10; Oxytropis

    foliolosa , 5,8; O. terrae-novae ,7,8; O. hudsonica , 6,9,10; O. may

    delliana , 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10; O. arctobia (and var. hyperarctica ), 3,5,6,9,10;

    O. podocarpa , 5,9; O. bellii , 6,8,10; Hedysarum mackenzii var. pabulare ,

    10; total 10.

            CALLITRICHACEAE: Callitriche verna var. minima , 10; only 1.

            EMPETRACEAE: Empetrum nigrum var. hermaphroditum , all districts; only 1.

            ONAGRACEAE: Epilobium angustifolium , 4,5,7,8; E. latifolium (and f. leucan

    themum ), all districts; E. palustre , 10; E. davuricum var. arcticum ,

    3,5,8,9,10; E. anagallidifolium , ?5,7,9; total 5.

            HIPPURIDACEAE: Hippuris vulgaris (and var. maritime ), 3,4,5,7,8,9,10; only 1.

            PYROLACEAE: Pyrola secunda var. obtusata , 10; P. gradiflora , all except 2;

    total 2.

            ERICACEAE: Ledum palustre var. decumbens , 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10; Rhododendron lap

    ponicum , 2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10; Loiseleuria procumbens , 4,5,6,8,10; Phyllodoce

    coerules , 4,5,7,8; Cassiope tetragona , all districts; C. hypnoides , 4,5,

    7,8,9,10; Andromeda polifolia , 8,10; Arctostaphylos alpina , ?2,4,5,6,7,8,

    9,10; A. rubra , 9,10; Vaccinium uliginosum var. alpinum (and var. alpinum

    f. langeanum ), all districts; V. vitis-idaea var. minor , 4,5,6,7,8,9,10;

    total 11.

    010      |      Vol_VI-0019                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Plounin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            DIAPENSIACEAE: Diapensia lapponica , 1,4,5,7,8,9,10; only 1.

            PRIMULACEAE: Primula stricta , 8; P. egaliksensis (and f. violacea ), 8,10;

    Androsace septentrionalis , 1,3; total 3.

            PLUMBAGINACEAE: Armeria labradorica f. glabriscapa (and f. pubiscapa ), all

    districts; only 1.

            BORAGINACEAE: Mertensia maritima var. tenella , all except 1; only 1.

            SCROPHULARIACEAE: Veronica alpina (and var. unalaschkensis ), 5,7,8,9; Cas

    tilleja pallida (s.l.) (and var. septentrionalis ), 5,10; Euphrasia

    var. minutissima , 4,5,7,8; Bartsia alpina , 5,7,8,9; Rhinanthus

    groenlandicus , ?2,?7,10; Pedicularis groenlandica , 7; P. lapponica ,

    4,5,8,9,10; P. labradorica , 5,7; P sudetica , 2,3,4,6,9,10; P. lanata ,

    all except 7; P. langsdorfii var. arctica , 1,2,3,?5,?6; P. hirsute , all

    districts; P. flammea (and f. flavescens ), all except 1; P. capitata ,

    1,2,3,5,6,9; total 14.

            LENTIBULARIACEAE: Pinguicula vulgaris , 5; only 1.

            PLANTAGINACEAE: Plantago juncoides var. glauca , 5,9; only 1.

            CAMPANULACEAE: Campanula uniflora , all districts; C rotundifolia (s.l.),

    4,7,8; total 2.

            COMPOSITAE: Solidago macrophylla var. thysoidea , 7; S. multiradiata , ?2,5,7;

    Erigeron eriocephalus , all except 2; E. unalaschkensis , 2,4,5,6,7,8,9,10;

    E. compositus , 1; Antennaria angustata , 3,4,5,7,8,9,10; A. canenscens ,

    4,5,7,8,10; A. labradorica , ?1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10; A. burwellensis , 7;

    A. compacta , 4,5,7,8,?9; A. nitens , 10; A. fernaldiana , 9; A. pygmaea ,

    ?6,7; A. arenicola , 10; A. isolepis , 7,10; A. tweedsmuirii , 8;

    A. tansleyi , 5,8,9,10; Gnaphalium supinum , 7; G. norvegicum , ?4;

    011      |      Vol_VI-0020                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    Matricaria inodora var. nana , 3,5,6,8,9,10; Chrysanthemum arcticum , 8,10;

    C. integrifolium , 2,3,4,5,6,9; Tanacetum huronense var. terrae-novae (and

    var. bifarium ), 8, Artemisia borealis (and var. pushii ), 4,5,8,10; Peta

    sites sagittatus , 9; Arnica alpine (s.l.) (and var. angustifolia ), 1,2,3,

    4,5,6,7,8; Senecio congestus (and var. palustris and f. polycricos ), ?2, 3,

    4,5,6,8,9,10; Taraxacum phymatocarpus (s.l.), 1,2,3,5,6,9; T. cerato

    phorum , 5,?8; T. lacerum (s.l.), 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10; T. lapponicum , ?4,5,

    7,8,9; T. torngatense , 7; Crepis nana , 3,4,6,9; total 33.

            The number of vascular plant species at present known from each of the ten

    major districts is as follows; but, owing to extremely varied extent to

    which the different districts have been investigated, these totals probably

    indicate to all-too-varying degrees the plants actually occurring: (1) Elles–

    mere Island, 115 species 4?; (2) Devon, Cornwallis, and Somerset Islands,

    116 species 13; (3) Northern Baffin Island, 145 species 4?; (4) Central

    Baffin Island, 160 species 11?; (5) Southern Baffin Island, 207 species 5?;

    (6) Melville Peninsula, 124 species 14?; (7) Northernmost Labrador, 175 species

    5?; (8) Northernmost Quebec, 211 species 6?; (9) Islands in Hudson and Un–

    gava Bays, 191 species 8?; (10) West Coast of Hudson Bay (Keewatin), 184

    species 2?.

            The “lower” plants such as Algae, Fungi, lichens (Lichenes), mosses

    (Musci), and liverworts (Hepaticae), although they tend to be represented by

    more numerous species, are far less known than the higher plants in our area,

    and the Bacteria have scarcely been investigated at all. Practically all know–

    ledge available to date on this cryptogamic flora is summarized in Botany of

    the Canadian Eastern Arctic, Part II and, as such detailed interest is almost

    012      |      Vol_VI-0021                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    entirely confined to specialists, need scarcely be considered here. Table I,

    however, may prove interesting as giving the total numbers of species belonging

    to the various (not always systematic) groups considered by specialist authors

    from the whole of our area and its ten major districts when that work was

    written (during 1937-39). Even more than with the vascular plants it is evi–

    dent that our knowledge is to a large extent a function of the degree to which

    investigation has been prosecuted. To bring these numbers up to date there

    should be included previous reports especially of Algae and Fungi (cf. 55)

    and the subsequent additions of Steef (70; 71), Wynne and Steere (78), Lynge

    (29), Polunin (50), and Lepage (26), as well as many others from collections

    Table I. Species Totals.
    Group Number of species

    in groups
    Major districts
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    Algae 383 6 46 106 88 170 -- 62 126 8 106
    Marine phytoplankton 121 a 65 68 66 82 36 -- -- -- 42 --
    Freshwater Diatomeae 192 a 76 45 83 71 94 -- 58 54 33 --
    Fungi 79 1 6 20 7 27 -- 12 33 5 13
    Lichens 275 115 79 76 102 85 53 58 57 85 36
    Musci 304 196 133 90 112 87 61 84 70 99 36
    Hepaticae 78 57 15 20 20 8 10 5 13 13 --
    Total 1432

    a Two of the species occurred in both these lists, so the total numbers of

    different species recorded from the area is 1,430 — to which should now be added

    at least 5 Lichenes, 10 Musci, 4 Hepaticae, and 4 marine planktonic Diatomeae

    (cf. 55, p.513).

    013      |      Vol_VI-0022                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    not yet worked up. But still some major districts remain virtually unknown

    as regards their cryptogamic flora, and there are glaring instances of vast

    areas from which reports are lacking for whole groups of plants that are likely

    to be represented in them by hundreds rather than by dozens of species.



            While the flora of our area is the sum total of different “kinds” of

    plants inhabiting it, the vegetation is concerned rather with the question of

    their relative abundance, being the total “display” or assemblage that the

    plants make collectively. In our area the plants are almost everywhere

    dwarf, rising above low bush height only in very limited tracts in the most

    favorable districts of the south, and nowhere attaining real tree dimensions.

    But, although the vegetation is often so scanty as to be overlooked by the

    casual visitor, it is in effect practically ubiquitous in one form or another

    except on icecaps, and is the source of sustenance of considerable animal life

    both small and large — especially in the sea.

            The following account summarizes what is known of the vegetation of each

    of the ten major districts, largely following the detailed treatment in Botany

    of the Canadian Eastern Arctic, Part III (46), but including some further ob–

    servations (44) and marine phytoplanktonic and aerobiological notes. The usual

    procedure in dealing with a major district will be to give some preliminary,

    general notes on its vegetation, culled principally from the literature, usually

    followed by a more detailed, illustrated account of the main plant communities

    of one “test” area that has been intensively investigated by the author, whose

    field notes or publication of 1948 (46) may be understood to be the source

    when no citation is given. The resultant article, far longer than those

    014      |      Vol_VI-0023                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    describing the vegetation of other sections of the Arctic, is offered particu–

    larly for reference by those desiring details of the correlation between habi–

    tats and plant communities - e.g., as successive lines of latitude are passed

    coming south in eastern North America, and then traveling westward from near the

    Atlantic seaboard to the west coast of Hudson Bay.


    Ellesmere Island

            In conformity with the high-arctic position, hard climate, and limited flora,

    the vegetation of Ellesmere is almost everywhere scanty, being probably rarely

    “closed” over areas of real extent, although even on the north coast there are to

    be found “luxuriant patches of sorrel and grasses even at 600 or 700 feet” and

    prostrate willows with stems up to seven-tenths of an inch in diameter (23,

    pp.114-15). Of the country inland, A. H. Markham observes (36, p.383): “Some

    of the hills … were beautifully carpeted with the pretty little purple saxi–

    frage, a draba , a potentilla , and other wild flowers, while the valleys were

    covered with patches of luxuriant vegetation, consisting of grasses and delight–

    fully soft moss.”

            Of the Lady Franklin Bay district Nares remarks (39, vol.2, pp.140-41):

    “On the southern slopes of Bellot Island, which was sheltered from the north

    winds and received the full force of the mid-day su n , the vegetation was remark–

    ably rich. Six species of saxifrage were common, and [ Erysimum pallasii]

    attained a height of eight or ten inches; … a single species of fern grew

    abundantly under the shelter of boulder rocks. Many other plants … were col–

    lected on the same spot, and it would thus appear that a favo u rable combination

    of soil, shelter from winds, and a full exposure to the sun have more to do with

    the development of flowering plants in the Polar regions than parallels of

    015      |      Vol_VI-0024                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    latitude.” Greely (20, vol.1, p.81) writes that in this region “The adjacent

    brook-slopes and margins were clothed with vegetation, composed of thick beds

    of Dryas , or clusters of Saxifraga , varied with sedges, grasses, or the familiar

    buttercup. Higher up, on glacier-drift of clayey nature, countless Arctic

    poppies of luxuriant growth dotted with fair yellow the landscape.”

            The interior of northern Ellesmere to the west of Lady Franklin Bay is

    far from barren or universally icebound. Thus Greely (20, vol.1, p.370) observed

    as early as June in the Lake Heintzelman district “the remains of dead willows …

    in sufficient quantities to enable us to cook our tea with it … In its whole

    extent the valley was entirely barren of snow, and in most places was covered

    with a comparatively luxuriant vegetation. This consisted generally of willow,

    saxifrages, and dryas, though where the river widened, in occasional places,

    grasses or sedges to a height of ten or twelve inches were frequently noticed.”

    Not far off Greely noted (20, vol.1, p.371) “a fine level valley about a mile

    and a half wide, covered in the main by a very considerable quantity of grass,

    which in its manner of growth and appearance resembles the bunch grass of our

    western prairies. In addition there are many young willows, saxifrages, dryas,

    etc. Enough dead willows can be gathered at almost any spot for the requirements

    of any sledge party.”

            About the great Lake Hazen, Greely noted (20, vol.1, p.279) “Much grass,

    many willows, and other vegetation …,” while on a nearby plateau he found

    (p.391) that “The vegetation was the most rank I have seen in the polar regions.

    Grass in considerable quantity grew at the margin of … shallow lakes to the

    height of eighteen or twenty inches,” later remarking (p.414) on “The discovery

    of numerous valleys covered with comparatively luxuriant vegetation, which af–

    ford sufficient pasturage for large numbers of musk-oxen.”

    016      |      Vol_VI-0025                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            Farther south, in the Hayes Sound region, Simmons (63, pp.468-69) re–

    ported that “The vegetation was close and luxuriant over considerable parts

    of the plateau which constitutes the interior of the peninsula. Particularly

    noticeable was Papaver radicatum , which … was still in full bloom [on

    August 21]. Other flowers were also in bloom, probably because the snow had

    lain long, and they had been late in regaining their functional activity.

    On the slope leading down to Rutherfordeidet, on the other hand, where, on

    account of its favorable aspect, ‘spring’ was considerably earlier than

    on the plateau, nearly all the flowers, with the exception of Saxifraga tri

    cuspidata , were over. I saw, among others, [ Vaccinium uliginosum var. alu

    pinum ] and Cassiope tetragona as well-grown as in Foulke Fjord.” This last

    place lies considerably to the south in Greenland, and by the extent and green–

    ness of its vegetation Simmons had been particularly struck.

            In general it would seem that the flora and vegetation are poorer on

    limestone than on Archean rocks (cf. 64, p.5). Indeed on calcareous soil

    “The ground formed by its products of denudation may be for large expanses

    entirely, or almost entirely, without vegetation, at any rate as far as the

    higher plants are concerned; mosses were of rare occurrence, and the lichens

    also sparse” (63, p.471).

            Little is known of the vegetation of the western portions of Ellesmere,

    but it seems to be relatively luxuriant (cf. 73, vol.1, p.181; 14, p.343).

    The latter author noted “a great herd of musk-oxen feeding on a wide meadow

    at the foot of the mountains … Their splendid condition was no doubt due

    to the excellent pasturage they found on the grassy meadows among the moun–

    tains and along the fjord … Large tracts support a relatively luxuriant

    growth of willow, sedge, and grass, the chief foods of the musk-oxen.” To

    017      |      Vol_VI-0026                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    the north, about Greely and Borup fjords, musk oxen and vegetation were

    again “abundant,” forming in the latter region “a thick close carpet” (14,


            As our example for detailed consideration we will take Craig Harbour, a

    deep and relatively sheltered cove lying on the south coast in latitude 76°12′ N.

    and longitude 80°56′ W. The physiography here is rugged, with tall cliffs

    and mountain slopes rising to more than 1,000 feet (305 meters) from the sea

    or the sides of the gently sloping plains that terminate the cove and in

    places stretch back a mile or more from the water’s edge. At the raised back

    of the plains, on the side away from the sea, are steeper slopes or tongues

    of glacier that descend into the valley but do not here reach the water. The

    climate is very severe, with the monthly mean around −20°F. in winter and

    only about 43°F. in the warmest month (July), and the annual precipitation

    usually much less than 10 inches.

            The prevailing rocks of the district are dark-reddish or chocolate–

    colored granites capped by a few feet of sandstones succeeded by a thicker

    layer of dolomite. The valley bottom is occupied by recently outwashed glacial

    material partly covering and partly intermixed with marine deposits. The dark

    granitic slopes are much streaked by long screes of light-colored dolomite

    or gullies filled with neve, and in places snow patches persist throughout

    the summer even at sea level. The general impression from the sea is of deso–

    lation and barrenness (Fig. 2), but on closer inspection it is evident that the

    frequent “raised” beaches support considerable dwarfed vegetation, while the

    plains, where undistrubed, are darkened by a meager investment of Saxifraga

    oppositifolia and lichens of poor growth (Fig. 3). As in other high-arctic

    lands, still closer investigation soon brings realization that there is a consid–

    erable range of plant habitats and different communities, of which the following are

    018      |      Vol_VI-0027                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    the most noteworthy: indeed the apparent uniformity is largely due to the

    generally poor growth which rarely allows the plants to take a real hold of the


            The uplands , usually covered by ice of varying thickness, occupy almost

    the whole of the land area in the vicinity of Craig Harbour, although no major

    mountains are to be seen. Thus an ice-free plateau between the cove and the

    Fram Fjord coast, extending inland for some 3 kilometers to the edge of the

    icecap, was mostly about 1,500 feet (457 m.) high and widely covered by loose

    detritus sorted into rough stone “polygons” (cf. 53, p.352), the surface

    material being so sorted that the smaller stones and more finely comminuted

    particles come to occupy rounded or polygonal areas, generally 1 to 3 meters,

    in diameter, separated by narrower intervening tracts composed of the larger

    stones and boulders. These last usually have their surfaces about one-third

    covered by lichens.

            Growth of both cryptogams and phanerogams is extremely stunted, the latter

    being on the average confined to a single low tuft (rarely exceeding 15 centi–

    meters in diameter) of Saxifraga oppositifolia f. pulvinata to each square

    meter; indeed 9 out of every 10 higher plants belong to this species. Puc

    cinellia vahliana was the only other vascular plant that seemed at all common,

    although 17 more were noted at least several times. With the exception of the

    almost ubiquitous Rhacomitrium lanuginosum mosses were far less in evidence

    than lichens, although 8 species were easily collected in a 4-meter quadrat.

    The most plentiful lichen was the crustaceous Rhizocarpon geographicum . In

    spite of the relative barrenness of these exposed uplands, snow buntings

    ( Plectrophenax nivalis ) and rock ptarmigan ( Lagopus rupestris ) were frequently

    in evidence on them in September both in 1934 and 1936.

    019      |      Vol_VI-0028                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            The scree and other slopes are extremely various in composition, stability,

    and other characters. Those composed of light-colored dolomite or sandstone,

    which in many places come down from the edge of the plateau or from weathering

    crags or cliffs or mountains, tend to be especially unstable and barren. As

    is seen in Figures 2 and 5, they may form large pyramids of accumulated debris

    at their bases. Such dynamic “young” screes often bear little more than oc–

    casional crustaceous lichens of limited growth on their component particles.

    In other instances rapid surface weathering has led to the accumulation of

    some finer “soil” that may bear occasional higher plants, such as Saxifraga

    oppositifolia and Salix arctica , though these are rarely if ever frequent and

    vigorous enough to play an important part in stabilizing the general surface.

            The less steep scress, e.g., forming an angle of less than 30 degrees

    with the horizontal, tend to be more stable and consequently better vegetated.

    Especially is this the case when they are of granitic origin; then the larger

    blocks of rock frequently support numerous and quite obvious individuals of

    Gyrophora and Rhizocarpon species, and the occasional patches of mineral earth

    accumulated in their shelter may be bound for as much as a square meter in ex–

    tent by Saxifraga oppositifolia or Salix arctica , or sometimes by other phanero–

    gams. Where there is almost complete stability — as for example on or below

    rocky crags — plants may take a real hold and darken the surface quite obviously.

    In one such instance 13 species of phanerogams, 9 mosses, and numerous lichens

    as well as a parsitic fungus were observed in a very small area.

            The lowlands consist of gently sloping plains lying at the back of the cove

    ( Figs. 2 and 3) and occupied by outwashed morainic material mixed with marine

    deposits. The raised beaches tend to become leveled to an even slope, the sur–

    face consisting partly of barren stream beds which are usually dry in late summer

    020      |      Vol_VI-0029                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    (Fig. 3) and fan out near the sea, and stable tracts darkened by vegetation

    that occupy most of the area (at least inland). Their chief community is

    a Saxifraga oppositifolia “barren” developed where to surface is gravelly

    and statis. The snowfall is light and most of the snow drifts into the stream

    beds and depressions behind ridges, leaving these slightly raised banks and

    flats largely bare in winter. The surface is relatively dark, due to the

    dominant Saxifraga oppositifolia and to the presence of numerous lichens of

    poor growth, but no humus has accumulated and no real advance has been made

    by the vegetation. The only appreciable organic content of the soil, besides

    living roots and rhizoids, is a little fibrous or other almost intact dead

    matter. The pH near the surface was 7.0 wh er ever it was tested.

            Saxifraga oppositifolia is always the most characteristic plant of these

    areas, although in the more favorable situations, such as slight depressions

    behind ridges, Carex nardina , Dryas integrifolia , and Luzula confusa may also

    be very plentiful and Papaver radicatum , Festuca brachyphlla , Cerastium alpina ,

    Salix arctica , and Saxifraga caespitosa f. uniflora are quite frequent. Alto–

    gether, 21 species of flowering plants appeared to be characteristic of this

    community, including sedges and grasses, and several more occurred as casuals,

    All were diminutive, the woody plants tending to be flat-pressed against the

    ground and often drastically eroded by the wind (Fig. 4). Mosses are little

    in evidence, but numerous lichens grow on the larger pebbles and gray-brown

    mineral soil, contributing markedly to the dark color and stability of the

    surface which, however, they do not by any means cover.

            Marshy areas , in contrast to their reputed abundance on the west coast

    of Ellesmere, were very few and limited at Craig Harbour. The only one invest–

    tigated that was of reasonable extent proved to have more silt than moss

    021      |      Vol_VI-0030                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    between the higher plants which, however, formed a fairly close sward. This

    was dominated by Eriophorum angustifolium , Arctagrostis latifolia , and

    Carices — especially Carex aquatilis var. stans and C. membranacea — but

    their growth was poor and they rarely flowered. Although in places small

    mossy hillocks up to 25 centimeters high were developed, there was practically

    no humous accumulation, and the reaction of the soil water approximated every–

    where to neutrality. Two 2-meter quadrats transpired to be almost identical

    in floristic composition and to contain 16 vascular plant species of which,

    apart from the dominants, only Polygonum viviparum , Salix arctica , and Juncus

    biglumis had a frequency degree of more than occasional. Lichens were usually

    absent, but mosses grew well although varying from place to place. Orthothe

    cium chryseum was the most noticeable, but at least 8 other species were con–

    siderably in evidence.

            The snow effect is seen in slight depressions and behind ridges where the

    winter accumulation is sufficient to form a good protective blanket and give

    plentiful water when it melts in early summer. There a characteristic post–

    climax community dominated by Cassiope tetragona is developed - particularly in

    the angle below a slight ridge or gravel bank, where the healthy Cassiope darkens

    the area noticeably (Fig. 5). In spite of the dark litter and lichens between

    the axes of the dominant, there was no real humous accumulation, the soil be–

    neath being light-colored and gritty although slightly acid (hP 6.2) in the ex–

    amples investigated. The Cassiope grows at most eight inches high and was apt

    to be interrupted by projecting stones on which grew many of the lichens of the

    surrounding Saxifraga oppositifolia barrens, or by open areas supporting the

    peculiar hepatic Gymnomitrium corallioides or relatively luxuriant but much

    mixed mosses and lichens. The result was a considerable flora including often

    022      |      Vol_VI-0031                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    as many as 22 vascular plants in a small area, and a similar number of lichens

    as well as several prominent Bryophyta.

            Depressions and other spots where the snow drifts deeply and lies until

    late summer, thus reducing the gorwing season to a few weeks during which the

    surface generally remains damp and the soil beneath it permanently frozen,

    are plentiful around Craig Harbor. Indeed, the whole district has its flora

    and vegetation limited by the shortness of the summer to more or less high–

    arctic types. As a result, the characteristic “late-snow” flora of these per–

    sistent snow patches, consisting of species that can vegetate quickly, differs

    from that of the exposed surrounding areas much less in Ellesmere than in most

    places to the south. The diminutive grass Phippsia algida is perhaps the most

    characteristic plant of such snow patches, but sveral Saxifragae are usually

    to be found, and, in addition, Caryophyllaceae and small Cruciferae. Although

    small tufts of terricolous mosses and a few lichens contributed to the darkness

    of the surface, cryptogams were rather little in evidence, while toward the

    center of such patches, where the growing season was apt to be reduced to a mat–

    ter merely of days, there was little save sterile tufts of mosses. However,

    farther out where the snow melted earlier and the growing season was conse–

    quently longer, although still too short to allow Cassiope to become established,

    the flora of both cryptogams and phanerogams was far more considerable, and the

    vegetation more evident.

            Special Localized Habitats and Communities . Of these, three should be men–

    tioned, namely, ( 1 ) the small pebbly “islands” left in stream beds as illustrated

    in Figure 3, supporting communities that may be closed although their composi–

    tion is quite variable, depending it seems largely on chance dispersal (in the

    example illustrated the dominants were Luzula confusa and Epilobium latifolium );

    023      |      Vol_VI-0032                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    ( 2 ) areas rendered orange in color by the lichen Caloplaca elegans which may

    form an almost pure investment in slight depressions associated with drainage

    and seepage; and ( 3 ) raised beaches which had, however, usually been disturbed

    by geodynamic forces and come to support one of the vegetation types described


            Freshwater habitats are rather limited, at least in late summer, consist–

    ing of small pools and trickles of water below melting snow patches or in

    streams that have largely dried up. Many pools or eddies in these streams

    appear entirely barren, although some support filamentous and other algae such

    as Zygnema sp., Cosmarium curtum , and Phormidium retzii . The last-named also

    forms a scum on damp earth in many places, as do colonies of Nostoc , etc. Other

    persistent freshwater pools in stream beds had deposits rich in diatoms; no

    less than 44 different species and varieties being identified from one small

    sample. “Where dry the beds were usually barren, owing to the washing down and

    drastic disturbance at snow-melt every summer. Thus, there were often no

    plants of any kind to be found in areas of many square metres, although gen–

    erally a thin investment of such algae as Oscillatoria tenuis was to be found

    on the undersides of stones. On the other hand, where the bed opened out and

    became sandy instead of boulder there was often a fair growth of mixed mosses,

    almost all in the vegetative condition” (46).

            Strand and marine communities were little developed except at deeper levels

    than could be investigated from the shore. The tide range is small and the

    shore shingly and almost entirely barren, being much disturbed by ice (Fig. 2).

    However, in places where the shingle banks are broken by streams or muddy flats,

    there occur depauperated “salt-marsh” communities dominated by Puccinellia

    phryganodes , with associated Stellaria humifusa (and in drier places Cochlearia

    024      |      Vol_VI-0033                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    officinalis var. groenlandica and Carex maritima ), but none of the other

    plants that are to be found in such habitats almost everywhere to the south.

    Growing macroscopic algae are also generally absent between the tide marks,

    although an abundance of detached algal material may afford a habitat for num–

    erous epiphytic and other microscopic types. However, Fucus vesiculosus of

    fairly good growth may occur on rocks in sheltered situations.

            Even for some distance below low tidemark the growth of algae tends

    to be poor, probably owing to the soft substratum and grinding action of ice,

    but farther down dense beds of Laminaria and Alaria spp. are to be seen, accom–

    panied by many and various smaller types.

            Marine Phytoplankton . Observations on the marine phytoplankton were

    made northward to 83°19′ N. by the expedition of Nares in 1875-76 (cf. 10; 13)

    and, in the south, by Seidenfaden in 1928 (21). The floristic resume (55)

    gives also some indication of relative abundance of the individual species and

    their phytogeographical relationships in some cases. There seems no doubt

    that marine phytoplanktonic organisms are plentiful throughout the salt waters

    of the region, at least in late summer.

            Grøntved and Seidenfaden (21, pp.293-94) describe the hydrographical

    conditions and phytoplanktonic flora off Craig Harbour in mid-August, stating

    that “near the shore … A rich plankton occurred, dominated by diatoms such

    as Chaetoceros decipiens , C. diadema , and C. furcellatus , Rhizosolenia semispina ,

    and Thalassiosira Nordenskjöldi [sic] … [with] a large maximum of Fragilaria

    oceanica ” while farther offshore “Similar conditions were encountered,” with

    the Rhizosolenia still rather frequent, Ceratium arcticum often present, but

    Chaetoceros decipiens less in evidence. “The plankton then consisted prin–

    cipally of Fragilaria oceanica and various species of Thallasiosira ,” Achnanthes ,

    Melosira , and Chaetoceros .

    025      |      Vol_VI-0034                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic


    Devon, Cornwallis, and Somerset Islands

            This group for our present purposes has been taken to include Graham,

    Buckingham, North Kent, and Coburg Islands, and, being still rather high-arctic

    in position and rigorous in climate, is relatively sparsely vegetated, although

    in many places an improvement on the more northerly Ellesmere Island.

            The small northern Graham and Buckingham Islands, being “of Mesozoic rocks,

    which may have afforded soil favorable enough …” are reported by Schei (62,

    p.21) to support “a well developed vegetation … even if the species are

    probably few.” On the other hand, North Kent Island was noted by Simmons (62,

    pp.19-20) as having a much poo r er flora and vegetation than the adjacent parts

    of Ellesmere of similar geological character, though “in some parts … mosses

    were unusually predominant” and “Lichens also occurred in great abundance.”

    What appears to have been the richest vegetation by far was concentrated around

    where numerous birds nest, but “In general, the flowering plants appeared in

    single tufts or individuals in the open, bare ground.” Much the same is ap–

    parently true of the small limestone Castle Island and Devils Isle (62, pp.10

    and 12), the phanerogams comprising a few high-arctic species, although Bryo–

    phyta at least were numerous (cf. 7). Simmons concludes (62, pp.14-18) that

    birds have been largely responsible for dispersal of plants to these islets,

    although in general “wind transport over the snow-covered ice in winter …”

    probably “plays a prominent part in the migration of arctic plants.”

            Coburg Island in little known and, apparently, little vegetated (73, vol. 1,

    p.209). Robert Bentham ( in litt .) compares it with the rather barren adjacent

    coast of southeastern Ellesmere, emphasizing its exposed nature and the rapidity

    of erosion and surface disintegration; it certainly looks like a bleak and in–

    hospitable place (Fig. 6).

    026      |      Vol_VI-0035                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            Such notes as are available from various points on the north coast of

    Devon Island indicate that the vegetation is about as variable and locally

    luxuriant there as in southern Ellesmere. Thus, according to Simmons (62,

    pp.6-9), the vegetation in West Fjord (lat. 76°8′ N., long. 90°10′ W.) is

    extremely poor, at least on the low-lying limestone where “The densest vege–

    tation was found along some small brooks and around some shallow ponds near

    the shore where, however, mosses decidedly formed the most prominent consti–

    tuent of the verdure.” Not so far to the east, about Cape Vera, there is to

    be observed “a rather dense verdure in some parts of the low foreland in front

    of the … rookery where millions of fulmar petrels breed,” while elsewhere

    in the west there have been reported “wide stretches of bogs and grass-grown


            In general, the eastern parts of Devon Island, where the rocks are gneissic

    and granitic, tend to be better vegetated than the western. Thus R. M. Anderson

    reports verbally that about Cape Sparbo (Cape Hardy) the low-rolling plains are

    particularly rich, with often closed marshy pasturage for the numerous musk

    oxen. On the south coast lies Dundas Harbour, the vegetation of which will be

    described below; farther west, limestone again predominates and the vegetation

    is, in general, poor although appreciable on some gentle slopes, for example,

    in the vicinity of Radstock and Baring bays (verbal report from Trevor Harwood).

            Cornwallis Island appears on the whole to be rather poorly vegetated (72),

    even when compared with its neighbors. These include the large Somerset Island,

    where the writer has recently noted from the air quite luxuriant vegetation

    especially in such sheltered areas as the slopes around Stanwell-Fletcher Lake.

    In general, however, the vegetation of Somerset Island is sparse, for example

    in the vicinity of Elwyn Bay (41, p.100) and Port Leopold ( 32, p.178 36, p.175), although

    027      |      Vol_VI-0036                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    in the extreme south there may be “a fair show of vegetation” (32, p.198).

    Thus around the Fort Ross “post,” although Saxifraga oppositifolia barrens

    appeared to constitute the most characteristic type of vegetation, “Sedges

    and grasses are fairly close and thick” in low-lying moist depressions

    (D. H. Chitty in litt .).

            As regards marine phytoplankton, this appears to be plentiful in mid–

    August when, at least in 1928, in waters predominantly flowing eastward out

    of Jones and Lancaster Sounds, i.e., past the north and south coasts of Devon

    Island, diatoms were dominant — especially Fragilaria oceanica , Rhizosolenia

    semispina , Thalassiosira spp., and Chaetoceros spp. (21; 55). In August 1947,

    the author made attempts at sampling the living bacterial and fungal spore

    content of the atmosphere when flying over parts of Somerset Island as well

    as farther west, outside the Eastern Arctic area. From the material brought

    back, an unexpected range and abundance of bacteria and fungi have been iso–

    lated (56, 57).

            As our locality for more detailed consideration we will take Dundas Har–

    bour, which is situated on the south coast of Devon Island in latitude,

    74°35′ N. and longitude 82°10′ W. The physiography hereabout is rugged, the

    geology variable, and the habitats consequently diverse. Inland stretches an

    almost continuous icecape, from which tongues of glacier come down to calve

    into the sea (Fig. 7). The rocks consist of gneisses of various types and

    colors, with often a capping of sandstones, dolomites, and limestones (Fig. 10).

    The coastal plains where undisturbed by glaciers and attendant moraines (Fig. 8)

    are predominantly of outwashed glacial material underlain by, and largely mixed

    with, older glacial material which has been rewashed by marine agencies, and

    which frequently contains shell fragments and particles of limestone. Although

    028      |      Vol_VI-0037                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    frosts may occur in any month, the climate and conditions of growth are more

    favorable than at Craig Harbour; and the vegetation, in general, is more

    luxuriant. The flora is larger (49) and closed communities are much more fre–

    quent and extensive, with plants often exceeding 30 centimeters in height and

    really affecting the aspect.

            Hills and steep slopes of one kind or another were numerous and usually

    poorly vegetated — often in a manner comparable to that obtaining at Craig

    Harbour, although in the most exposed situations the individual plants tended

    to be less depauperate and their assemblage less meager at Dundas. Thus in

    the Saxifraga oppositifolia barren, characterizing one exposed hilltop near

    the sea, Carex nardina , Luzula confusa , Draba nivalis , and Hierochloe alpina

    had frequency degrees of more than vr (very rare), while the surface was dark

    with lichens. In less exposed situations nearby there occurred such mat-forming

    denizens as Dryas integrifolia , Saxifraga oppositifolia , Cerastium alpinum , and

    larger “creepers” of Salix arctica .

            The lowlands are extremely variable in the conditions they afford for vege–

    tation. Thus on exposed ridges, for example, there may be no more than a Saxi

    fraga oppositifolia barren or some less depauperate mossy or lichen-rich facies.

    More frequently, there is sufficient shelter to allow Dryas integrifolia to

    enrich the community and quite a wide range of other phanerogams to enter. The

    most characteristic moss is Rhacomitrium lanuginosum and the most characteristic

    lichen, indicating still the lack of an effective snow blanket in winter is

    Cetraria nivalis . In some such areas rough polygons are to be seen, whereas in

    others the dominance is taken over by Salix arctica or, where shelter and snow–

    covering conditions are more suitable, by Cassiope tetragona . Occasional south–

    facing gneissic slopes which are well covered with snow in winter and have a lasting

    029      |      Vol_VI-0038                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    supply of water in summer (but nevertheless remain well drained and aerated)

    afford the most favorable situations of all. They are vegetated by a luxuriant

    “blueberry heath” dominated by Vaccinium uliginosum var. alpinum and Cassiope

    tetragona , which together largely cover the area. The Vaccinium ripens small

    but luscious fruits in plenty. The soil is damp, dark, and humous, and in re–

    action may be as low as pH 5.4. Associated may be as many as 28 other vascular

    plants and many more cryptogams in a small area, including such species as

    Salix reticulata , S. herbacea , Rhododendron lapponicum , Tofieldia coccinea , and

    Pedicularis flammea that are not known to grow farther north anywhere in our

    area, and Carex scirpoidea which here has its northernmost station on earth.

            Whereas under present climatic conditions the blueberry heath probably

    represents a postclimax, some approximation to the climax may be represented

    by the somewhat marshy community to be met with here and there in the lowlands.

    The example photographed in Figure 9 may have been affected by grazing of cari–

    bou and musk oxen and was certainly disturbed by frost action, the surface being

    divided by depressions into large “tundra polygons” (cf. 47, p.354 and pl.XXX).

    The chief dominant was Carex aquatilis var. stans , and there were abundant asso–

    ciated Arctagrostis latifolia , Eriophorum angustifolium , and Salix arctica

    (conspicuously in fruit in foreground of Fig. 9). A host of other phanerogams

    were generally in evidence, with mosses and a few lichens weaving the whole into

    a continuous sward over the dark and deep, largely humous soil.

            Glaciers and recent moraines are plentiful in the vicinity, the former

    dissecting the land by their usually barren tongues, but the latter affording

    conditions that appear to be suitable for quite rapid colonization by plants.

    Thus within 25 meters of the margin of one apparently receding glacier, a con–

    siderable number of phanerogamic species was to be found, all being of excellent

    030      |      Vol_VI-0039                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    growth. Cryptogams were less in evidence. Farther back Luzula confusa , which

    had been more frequent than any other plant near the glacier, became more and

    more plentiful until, the surface being there bound by mosses and lichens, the

    community became completely closed at a distance of about 100 meters from the

    edge of the glacier (Fig. 8).

            Marshes of one sort or another cover considerable areas around Dundas,

    especially by the sides of the fjord (Fig. 10). A characteristic denizen of

    tracts that are inundated most of the summer is Pleuropogon sabinii , tough

    it often gives way to denser clumps of Eriophorum angustifolium in stabilized

    areas (Fig. 11). More extensive and typical are the marshes of mixed dom–

    inance by Eriophora, Carices, and grasses — including Arctagrostis latifolia

    up to 50 centimeters high — which tend to be most luxuriantly developed

    around freshwater lakes and pools (Fig. 10), and which may include upward

    of thirty phanerogamic and many more crytogamic species in any small area.

    Such tracts appeared to be much visited and disturbed by wildfowl, which must

    considerably increase the available nitrogenous and other food materials and

    probably contribute appreciably to the luxuriance of the vegetation.

            The snow effect was most characteristically emphasized by a dark Cassiope

    heath subclimax which was remarkably like the community described above as

    developed at Craig Harbour in places where the snow lies deeply in winter and

    melts only after summer has come to most areas around, so that the growing

    season is appreciably shortened in such snow patches. However, the growth of

    the dominant tends to be more nearly closed than at Craig, and the flora

    rather larger, as is indeed the case with most other communities. As in most

    places to the south, the Cassiope heath usually forms a zone surrounding the

    more truly “late-snow” areas, over which the snow drifts so deeply each winter

    031      |      Vol_VI-0040                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    and melts so late in summer that their growing season is more and more dras–

    tically reduced as the center is approached. Here are to be found plants

    still flowering in September when all around have long faded, and here there

    is a tendency toward restriction of the species to plants that can vegetate

    quickly in the very short growing season, the community becoming more sparse

    and open toward the center of the area. The resultant zoned subclimaxes and

    exclusively late-snow species are, however, more numerous farther south, so

    reference may be made to the accounts given below. In the north there are

    more plentiful perennial patches of snow or neve, the innermost zones of which

    tend to be almost devoid of vascular plants. Frequently they support merely

    occasional algal colonies or young bryophytes, the rocks being devoid of crus–

    taceous lichens although often having a thin investment of Cyanophyceae on

    their undersurfaces.

            Special Localized Habitats and Communities . Only two need be mentioned:

    “raised beaches” and old Eskimo encampments. “Young” examples of the former,

    near the sea, are usually occupied by barrens of one sort or another, and older

    ones by heathy or grassy communities. The Eskimo encampments, although sup–

    posedly deserted for at least a century, are still notable for the relative

    luxuriance of the predominantly grassy vegetation that covers their area.

            Of freshwater habitats , the streams are often pehemeral, drying up in late

    summer, so that their beds tend to be barren, though where even the tiniest

    trickle persists there may be a considerable range of algae, including macro–

    scopic filamentous and colonial types. The only phanerogam seen in such situ–

    ations at Dundas was Ranunculus hyperboreus , which rooted in the bed and had

    leaves coming up and floating on the surface where the water was not too deep,

    as in Far Northern Spitsbergen (51). About the drying-up margins of pools,

    032      |      Vol_VI-0041                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    muddy surfaces are frequently darkened by Nostoc or other cyanophycean colonies

    that appear to result in quite rapid humous accumulation. In more lasting

    peaty or mossy pools, there is to be found a considerable range of algae,

    more than fifty species being identified from samples taken as late as Septem–

    ber in 1936. In larger bodies of water aquatic mosses are frequently more in

    evidence, and the margins support luxuriant beds of Carex aquatilis var. stans

    and Eriophorum angustifolium , which are consolidated into mixed marshes behind

    (Fig. 10).

            Strand and marine habitats are noticeably better vegetated than at Craig,

    at least as regards the seashore, where characteristic flat rosettes of Mer

    tensia maritima var. tenella have colonized the otherwise barren shingle just

    above high watermark. In sandy or muddy places Carex ursina and phases of

    C. salina and C. glareosa are to be found, with the usual Puccinellia phry

    ganodes and Stellaria humifusa , while in sheltered places and especially

    alongside lagoons a more extensive salt-marsh community is developed in

    which the same Carices, Puccinellia and Stellaria , tend to be the most char–

    acteristic plants. The lower shore tracts are often clothed by a thin invest–

    ment of such algae as Enteromorpha micrococca and Pylaiella littoralis .

            Between tidemarks in rocky places are to be found Fuci of rather limited

    growth, with other Enteromorpha spp., Pylaiella , Rhodochorton rothii , and

    Ulothrix implexa ; but it is chiefly below low tidemark that growth is really

    luxuriant, the denizens including large laminarians forming dense beds, and

    numerous Crustacea and Mammalia (especially white whales and seals).


    Northern Baffin Island

            The northern part of the approximately 1,000-miles-long Baffin Island may

    033      |      Vol_VI-0042                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    conveniently be cut off from the central sector by a line drawn in a south–

    westerly direction from a little north of Cape Adair on the east coast to

    the shore of Foxe Basin on the west. It includes all of Bylot Island, which,

    with other eastern parts, tends to be more lofty and rugged than the lands

    lying to the westward. The climate is not necessarily more favorable there

    than at Dundas Harbour.

            As regards the vegetation, the earliest account appears to be that of

    John Ross (61, p.179),who says about the region of Cape Byam Martin in the

    extreme northeast that “The valleys … were found to be covered with verdure

    and wild flowers, the mountains on each side were immensely high, and covered

    with snow. On the S.E. side of the valley there was a small plain, which was

    also covered with verdure.” Of Button Point in southeastern Bylot Island,

    Sutherland remarks (72, vol. II. pp.323-24) that it “looked as green as any

    English meadow, and the grass upon it was not one whit less luxuriant. The

    foxtail grass ( Alopecurus alpinus ) and the chickweed ( Cerastium alpinum ), and

    hosts of other grasses and herbaceous plants, grew among the bones of ani–

    mals … and the filth which is inseparable to Esquimaux habitations, to a

    degree of luxuriance which no one would be willing to assign to the 73rd

    parallel of north latitude” — though this luxuriance appears to have been

    due in the main to biotic disturbance. To the west, according to M’Clintock

    (32, p.152), “The lands enjoying a southern aspect, even to the summits of

    hills 700 or 800 feet in height, were tinged with green … Upon many well–

    sheltered slopes we found much rich grass. All the little plants were in full

    flower; some of them familiar to us at home, such as the buttercup, sorrel,

    and dandelion.” On the other hand, of one of the Wollaston Islands not much

    farther west, Goodsir (17, pp.110-11) reports “There was scarcely any vegetation

    034      |      Vol_VI-0043                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    to be seen; two species of grasses, and a saxifrage ( Saxifraga oppositifolia )

    were all that I could gather.”

            An early but reliable observer of the western parts of this major district

    was Parry (41), who indicates that the environs of Port Bowen were largely bar–

    ren, but reports the presence of some vegetation “wherever the soil allowed

    any to spring up,” noting also that Dryas integrifolia , Saxifraga oppositifolia ,

    Salix arctica , and Draba alpina were plentiful enough to support ptarmigan —

    although to be sure this is the case almost everywhere in the Arctic.

            By way of contrast the south coast of Northern Baffin, especially where

    it is of Archean rocks, appears to be relatively well vegetated. Thus, of

    Whyte Inlet off the north shore of Fury and Hecla Strait, one of Parry’s of–

    ficers reported (40, pp.349-50) that “At the head of the inlet we found two

    ravines running into it, and the vegetation was here more luxuriant than any

    I had seen during the voyage …”; but although this vegetation “was remark–

    ably abundant, yet the plants were singularly backward and dwarfish, and

    flowers rare.” In the region of Gifford Fjord another of Parry’s officers

    reported that “dwarf willow grew to a height and size almost entitling it to

    be called a shrub, and the [ Cassiope ] tetragona was in the greatest abundance”

    (40, p.466).

            On the east coast of Northern Baffin the physiography is especially rugged,

    being characterized by tall mountains, long fjords, icecaps, and many glaciers.

    The vegetation is in places relatively luxuriant, most notably around the heads

    of the fjords and in sheltered side bays (J. M. Wordie voce ). Off this eastern

    coast, as well as to the north, phytoplankton investigations have been carried

    out by Nilsson and Seidenfaden (21; 55), from which it would appear that diatoms,

    especially, are very plentiful at least in the second half of August, when

    035      |      Vol_VI-0044                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    members of such genera as Chaetoceros , Rhizosolenia , and Thalassiosira may

    be abundant (21, pp.294-94).

            For detailed consideration we will take the vicinity of Pond Inlet post,

    which lies in latitude 72°43′ N. and longitude 77°45′ W. on the south shore

    of the strait separating Baffin from Bylot Island. Here the land is locally

    rather low and rolling, of plains consisting almost entirely of upraised

    marine terraces composed of rewashed glacial material. Where marked differ–

    ences occur, this account of the vegetation will be supplemented by notes from

    Arctic Bay, which lies about 150 miles (241 km.) farther west in the same major

    district, and is far more variable physiographically and geologically. Its

    main plant communities have already been treated in some detail (46).

            Hills and Ridges tend to be very poorly vegetated, especially in exposed

    places near the sea (Fig. 12). Frequently there is no more than a Saxifraga

    oppositifolia barren with very few vascular plants, and with even the more

    numerous lichens and bryophytes showing poor growth. However, with less ex–

    treme exposure there is usually a larger flora, including Dryas integrifolia ,

    Salix arctica , Carex nardina , and Luzula confusa , and on sheltered slopes the

    vegetation may become more or less closed, merging into that of the plains.

    That the usual barrenness is due to a combination of factors of exposure and

    lack of food salts is demonstrated by the greatly increased luxuriance attained

    where either of these inhibitors is removed — hence, the appearance of the

    dense sward around the large boulder in Figure 12, due to manuring by scavengers,

    and other animals which resort to such prominences, or the immediately more lux–

    uriant vegetation developed in almost any depression.

            At Arctic Bay the summit of the highest mountain investigated was 1,800

    036      |      Vol_VI-0045                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    feet (549 m.) above sea level and practically flat (Fig. 13), with Saxifraga

    oppositifolia frequently showing from six to eight individuals to the square

    meter but few other vascular plants. At best, very locally, growth of the

    Saxifraga was sufficient to cover as much as one-quarter of the area, which

    was of loose detrital material. Although a fair number of cryptogams oc–

    curred, their growth was usually poor, the general aspect being that of a

    semidesert. With slightly better conditions, such as obtain at lower levels,

    less depauperate Dryas barrens tend to be developed, though still only a

    very few species of vascular plants are of at all frequent occurrence.

            The plains , which occupy most of the area, support more or less contin–

    uous vegetation of a marshy type in damp tracts or a mixed heathy type in

    drier ones. The marshy type covers considerable areas of the lower-lying,

    more sheltered flats and broad, open valleys; although variable from place

    to place, it is typically rather tussocky in the manner shown in Figure 14.

    The tussocks of this “hillock tundra” supposedly have their incidence in

    frost action but become accentuated by tufted mosses. It is largely because

    of them that the community is very mixed, for they introduce various micro–

    habitats. Thus the depressions between the tussocks may be wet and peaty —

    often actually under water for much of the summer, and permanently frozen not

    far beneath the surface — and poorly vegetated. Their sides, too, support

    marsh plants for the most part. On the other hand the tops of the tussocks

    may be largely covered by Salix arctica and heaths. Thus, of the two extremes,

    the chief plants are usually those of marshes and heaths, respectively, as

    described below. The cryptogams are also much influenced by microhabitat, and

    vary from colonial blue-green and other algae in the depressions to xeric

    lichens on the tops of the tussocks. In the example investigated, parasitic

    fungi were unusually common and evident. A feature of some fresher damp

    037      |      Vol_VI-0046                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    areas is the bushy growth exhibited by Salix richardsoni var. mckeandii (Fig. 15).

    The bushes are most obten about 35 centimeters high and 1 to 2 meters in diameter,

    with the tops domed or flat, as the twigs cannot persist above the normal winter

    snow blanket.

            The “mixed heath” of drier areas also varies from place to place but gen–

    erally consists of ground shrubs interrupted by light-colored lichens (Fig. 16).

    The chief dominant is usually Cassiope tetragona , but other ground shrubs, in–

    cluding Ledum palustre var. decumbens , Vaccinium uliginosum var. alpinum , and

    Salix arctica are usually plentiful. The soil is dark and humous at the surface

    but gray and gritty below. In reaction it tends to be rather strongly acid for

    the region, being often as low as pH 5.5 beneath the layer of cryptogams which

    often cover the surface to a depth of as much as 5 centimeters. On the most

    favored and drained south-facing banks, the Vaccinium nay exhibit bushy growth

    up to 12 centimeters high and sometimes dominate the area almost alone, although

    the Ledum or Cassiope or Empetrum nigrum var. hermaphroditum is usually asso–

    ciated in the blueberry heath. Noteworthy at Arctic Bay, beneath weathering

    crags of calcareous rock, were “flower slopes” with plentiful leguminous plants

    which appeared to benefit the community by their nitrogen-fixing activities.

            Marshes or marshy areas of the type mentioned above cover much of the low–

    lying country around Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay. The chief dominants are Carex

    aquatilis var. stans , C. membranacea , Eriophorum angustifolium , and Arctagrostis

    latifolia , although other genera or species of Eriophorum or Carex may be quite

    important locally. The most luxuriant marshes have a deep boggy substratum and

    are typically developed around the margins of lakes, behind which they may per–

    sist as far as the area remains flat (Figs. 17 and 18). In these most favorable

    situations one or more of the dominants may exceed 40 centimeters in height and

    038      |      Vol_VI-0047                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    practically oust competitors. Mosses, which may include Sphagna, are usually

    subdominant, forming an almost continous investment of variable composition in

    which Aulacomnium turgidum and Orthothecium chryseum are often prominent.

            Snow Effect . As in the north, the snow effect is chiefly emphasized by

    dark areas of Cassiope tetragona , which at Pond Inlet is often so overwhelmingly

    dominant that few other vascular plants are much in evidence, although usually

    between 20 and 30 species occur, besides numerous cryptogams. Toward the

    center of late-snow patches, where the growing season is greatly reduced, there

    is often little humous accumulation, the light-colored mineral earth supporting

    an open and generally herbaceous community of variable composition that may

    involve more than 30 different vascular plants in a small area and include

    such typical late-snow species as Ranunculus pygmaeus and Salix herbacea .

            Special Localized Habitats and Communities . There are several that

    should be mentioned. ( 1 ) The bed of a lake which had suddenly lost most of

    its water came to be colonized within two years by a considerable range of

    “open-soil” and other plants and, within four years, by such an abundance

    that in places the surface was covered. Growth of the individual plants was

    unusually luxuriant in many cases, and flowering often prolific. ( 2 ) Ruined

    Eskimo dwellings near the shore bore in one place a profusion of Matricaria

    inodora van nana , and Alopecurus alpinus up to 50 centimeters high; a similar

    habitat at Arctic Bay supported Agropyron violaceum var. hyperarcticum and

    Erysimum pallasii , neither of which is known from elsewhere in this region.

    ( 3 ) Irregular tufts of grass, etc., are to be seen around the burrows of ani–

    mals, decomposedcarcasses, or prominent boulders, which are repeatedly visited

    by birds and foxes (Fig. 12). ( 4 ) Solifluction streaks are particularly preva–

    lent at Arctic Bay, disturbing the vegetation for example, by leading to its

    confinement largely to depressed furrows.


    followed by p. 38a

    038a      |      Vol_VI-0048                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            Freshwater habitats and plant communities are plentiful, with the prevail–

    ing arctic conditions including permanently frozen subsoil and consequent poor

    drainage. As with most other categories, there is a considerable range of

    variation from which a few examples must be chosen, leaving aside intermediate

    types. The margins of lakes are usually colonized by Carex aquatilis var. stans ,

    Eriophorum angustifolium , or sometimes other hygrophytes, which form beds

    stretching out into the water where this is sheltered and not too deep (Fig. 18),

    whereas on shores that are exposed to the full blast of the prevailing wind,

    and are consequently apt to be frequently and forcibly wave-washed, a scoured

    “hard line” or banked-up rampart of matted roots and rhizomes tends to develop

    (Fig. 17). The reed-swamp beds often have associated such mosses as Drepano

    cladus bre [ ?] olius and Scorpidium scorpioides . At Arctic Bay there occurred

    Hippuris vulgaris and Ranunculus trichophyllus var. eradicatus — the latter

    growing entirely submerged.

            Sluggish streams here may be bordered by stands of sedges or Arctagrostis

    latifolia , or, in the instance seen in Figure 13 taken low down near the sea,

    of Dupontia fisheri . The beds of such streams may support brown aquatic mosses

    and a great range of algae, nore than 50 different species being sometimes iden–

    tifiable in a single sample taken from such habitats or from damp mud around the

    margins of lakes — at least at Arctic Bay. In swifter streams the mosses were

    generally greener but still such filamentous algae as Ulothrix zonata and

    Zygnema sp. often occurred in eddies. On the other hand the more ephemeral

    streams that carry the runoff when the snow melts in early summer often have

    beds that are more or less barren, although occasional plants of various kinds

    can occur here and there.

            Strand and marine habitats and communities are likewise variable at Pond

    039      |      Vol_VI-0049                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    Inlet. The seashore where damp and sandy or muddy is colonized in many places

    by Puccinellia phryganodes or, higher up, by P. paupercula , Carex glareosa

    var. amphigena , and Stellaria humifusa . At Arctic Bay such green algae as

    Enteromorpha ramulosa were abundant in brackish or tidal lagoons, as was

    Carex ursina about their margins.

            On dry sands the community above high tidemark is quite different, though

    again highly characteristic, the surface being colonized by the well-known,

    sand-bind lyme grass, Elymus arenarius (here all var. villosissimus ), which

    has its northernmost known station at Pond Inlet. Miniature dunes may be

    formed (Fig. 19). Binding the sand elsewhere may be Carex maritima , flat

    rosettes of Mertensia maritima var. tenella , and domed tussocks of Arenaria

    peploides (Fig. 19).

            The tidal range at Pond Inlet is very small, and the gravelly foreshore

    largely barren, although small Fuci may occur, with the usual Pylaiella

    littoralis . Lower down there occur much larger algae, including Agarum

    turneri , Alaria esculenta , and Laminaria saccharina .


    Central Baffin Island

            This district extends northward to the southern boundary of Northern

    Baffin (see p.000), and southward to a line drawn from the point of intersec–

    tion of the Arctic Circle with the west coast of Baffin Island to Neptune Bay

    (about lat. 64°30′ N.) on the east coast. The eastern regions tend to be moun–

    tainous and rugged, of granites and gneisses, but to the west the country

    becomes lower and lower, so that the west coast, especially in the south, is

    bordered by wide, flat or rolling plains. These are of limestone; and to

    the west, in Foxe Basin, are large, low islands apparently of similar formation

    040      |      Vol_VI-0050                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    (according to the observations of the author from the air in 1946).

            The climate at least in favored spots in the east appears to be dis–

    tinctly better than to the north. Thus, whereas at Pond Inlet there are gen–

    erally only three months having a mean temperature appreciably above freezing

    point, and their values over a period of years are 34°, 42°, and 41°F., at

    Pangnirtung there are four such months, the values over a similar period

    being 38°, 46°, 45°, and 37°F. — an amelioration of great importance to

    plant life. Moreover, the precipitation is much heavier than at Pond Inlet

    and elsewhere to the north, averaging at Pangnirtung a total of more than 12

    inches per annum, and including much rain during the four “summer” months.

            The vegetation of the northeastern portions of this district is known to

    be poor in some places but relatively luxuriant in others (46; 76; 77), in

    conformity with the variable physiography. Phytoplankton investigations have

    been made on the eastern seaboard by Gran (cf. 18), and Nilsson and Seiden–

    faden (21; 55). In the south, from the western parts of the Nettilling Lake

    region, there extend low plains which are in places nearly 100 miles wide,

    right to the west coast. They are of “tundra country, abundantly covered

    with grassy growth and, in places, moss” (1, p.122). Sedges appear to be the

    chief dominants over most areas of these rather swampy plains (cf. 66; 67),

    whereas in the more hilly area to the north, “The surface … is composed of

    disintegrated limestone, chiefly in the form of gravel. Between the ridges,

    which are almost bare of vegetation, there are some areas of semi-marsh and

    grassland” (34). The Spicer and adjacent islands of Foxe Basin appear all

    to be of light-colored limestone and flat and low (44), with numerous shallow

    lakes and tarns but vegetation darkening a considerable portion of the land

    area (Fig. 20).

    041      |      Vol_VI-0051                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            Pangnirtung (lat. 66°06′ N., long. 65°30′ W. in Cumberland Sound) will

    be taken as the main example for detailed consideration, supplemented by notes

    from Clyde “River” (lat. 70°27′ N., long. 68°35′ W. on the northeast coast),

    the usually much poorer vegetation of which has also been investigated in some

    detail (46). The physiography at Pangnirtung is rugged, the fjord being

    bounded by gently sloping outwash plains which rapidly increase in incline

    away from the water’s edge and lead to precipitous sides that in turn give

    rise to jagged peaks and mountains often of considerable height (Fig. 21).

    The chief rock is a grayish granite; wherever tested the soils lacked cal–

    careous materials and were acid in reaction.

            Mountains and uplands occupy most of the land area around Pangnirtung

    (Fig. 21). They tend to be far less vegetated than the lowlands, especially

    on exposed ridges and summits. Thus in the example seen in the background

    of Figure 22, which was about 2,500 feet (762 m.) above sea level and had evi–

    dently been glaciated, the stony gravel, like the strewn boulders, was darkened

    chiefly by lichens of poor growth; vascular plants were limited to occasional

    small tufts of Luzula confusa and rare ones of Hierochloe alpina and Cardamine

    bellidifolia . Even mosses were little in evidence and largely confined to

    depressions. Around perennial snow patches, where the growing season was most

    drastically reduced, even lichens were almost absent. However, in more suit–

    able, usually sheltered areas, the vegetation may be much more plentiful, for

    example, in the foreground of Figure 22, where there is a dry “upland tundra”

    of grassy appearance dominated by Luzula confusa , Hierochloe alpina , and Carex

    bigelowii. Salix herbacea and such coarse cryptogams as species of Cetraria ,

    Cladonia , Polytrichum , and Rhacomitrium may consolidate the whole into a dense

    sward. Where water is more plentiful, the dominants are often species of

    042      |      Vol_VI-0052                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    Eriophorum , with Juncus biglumis , Saxifraga tenuis , and S. foliolosa the chief

    phanerogamic associates, and bryophytes largely covering the damp surface.

            Lowlands are largely confined to the vicinity of the shore but are vari–

    ously vegetated. The fjord is deeply gouged and almost straight, being fre–

    quently scoured by strong winds. Accordingly the most luxuriant vegetation

    is developed in sheltered depressions or side valleys, where, especially

    along the margins of streams, a thin scrub of Salix cordifolia var. callicar

    paea up to 60 centimeters in height may be found (Fig. 23), or, more locally

    and rarely, low Betula nana on comparatively deep sphagnous bog (Fig. 24).

    Covering a vastly greater proportion of the area are the various heathy and

    marshy communities characteristic of the fjordside outwash plains. Although

    many intermediate and other facies occur, three main types may be distinguished,

    namely, ( 1 ) a poor mossy heath in which most of the area is occupied by silvery–

    gray Rhacomitrum lanuginosum or fruticose lichens with which are associated

    various grasses and ground shrubs; ( 2 ) in more favorable, sheltered spots

    with rich soil, a luxuriant blueberry heath with the dominant Vaccinium uligi

    nosum var. alpinum growing frequently 15 centimeters high, and such associated

    ground shrubs as Ledum palustre var. decumbens (Fig. 25), Cassiope tegragona ,

    and Empetrum nigrum var. hermaphroditum ; and ( 3 ) with more plentiful water a

    marshy community dominated chiefly by Eriophorum angustifolium , Carex aquatilis

    var. stans , and Arctagrostis latifolia (Fig. 26), with associated Carex rariflora ,

    Eriophorum spissum , Juncus castaneus , Luzula spadicea , Ranunculus lapponicus ,

    and Salix arctophila , and mosses forming a continuous investment as much as 20

    to 25 centimeters deep.

            Marshes are developed under conditions of still more abundant water than

    is obtained in the case mentioned last above (indeed the tract near the

    043      |      Vol_VI-0053                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    foreground of Figure 26, which is conspicuous because of abundance of white

    heads of Eriophorum angustifolium, was so wet as to constitute practically a

    marsh). The dominants are much the same, as also are the associates, although

    with the addition of such species as Eriophorum scheuchzeri , Dupontia fisheri ,

    Polygonum viviparum , and Luzula nivalis . Lichens are rare or locally absent

    but mosses, including Sphagna and Aulacomnia, usually form a continuous in–

    vestment, even if they are obscured by the taller phanerogams.

            The snow effect is very marked at Pangnirtung, the communities developed

    in relation to deeply drifting snow being highly characteristic (Fig. 27).

    At least four zones are commonly recognizable: ( 1 ) the outermost, where snow

    affords a goodly protection in winter but does not melt so late that the growing

    season is greatly reduced, and where the surface dries out fairly quickly; this

    is usually occupied by blueberry heath or busy Salices with plentiful associated

    sedges etc.; ( 2 ) a zone dominated by Cassiope tetragona where the snow lasts

    longer; ( 3 ) a zone dominated by Salix herbacea (Fig. 28) where the growing

    season is more drastically shortened, and where the cryptogamic associates

    include Solorina crocea and Gymnomitrium corallioides ; and ( 4 ) an herb barren

    where the snow lies too long for woody plants or lichens to grow at all well,

    but mosses and such diminutive phanerogams as Phippsia algida , Luzulae, and

    Saxifragea (especially Saxifraga rivularis ) do quite well in the virtual absence

    of competition. The very long-lasting or perennial snow patches in the uplands,

    as in the Far North, may show an innermost zone characterized by the complete

    absence of vascular plants and often also of lichens, the vegetation being

    limited to a few algae that may form an investment on mud or the underside of

    [ ?] stones, and small sterile tufts of Bryum or Andreaea .

    044      |      Vol_VI-0054                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            Areas of biotic disturbance are worthy of note, for example, in the large

    Eskimo settlement. Among the sealskin tents and other dwellings the bouldery

    terrain is virtually devoid of higher vegetation, owing to trampling, but most

    areas around are markedly grassy. The trampled areas tend to be filthy with

    refuse and excreta (particularly of sledge dogs), but support in damp depressions

    a fine green carpet of Prasiola crispa , and in drier spots such angiosperms as

    Phippsia algida , Cochlearia officinalis vars., Koenigia islandica , Poa glauca ,

    Polygonum viviparum , Puccinellia angustata agg., Sagina intermedia , Saxifraga

    rivularis , and Stellaria longipes . Farther afield, the less drastically dis–

    turbed but still occasionally manured areas are meadow-like in appearance,

    with an abundance of Poa arctica , phases of P. pratensis , and Alopecurus alpinus .

    Away from the settlement, man has had in almost all places no appreciable effect

    upon the vegetation — as in most other parts of the Arctic, but unlike the

    situation almost everywhere else in the world. However, some small influence

    of the biotic factor is generally to be found wherever the vegetation is care–

    fully scrutinized; for lemmings abound, especially in certain years, and riddle

    the surface sward with their runs; arctic hares are plentiful, especially in

    the mountains, and eat down the more succulent young tufts of Eriophorum ,

    Oxyria , etc.; and caribou may eat and sadly trample the more luxuriant lichens

    in heathy areas during their winter feeding, which may result in such a degree

    of denudation that the plants take many years to recover. On otherwise almost

    barren prominences may be found “birdstones” of the type already mentioned from

    Pond Inlet, surrounded by a characteristic grassy sward, or, in places, by a

    patchwork quilt of variously colored lichens and mosses reminiscent of that

    developing above bird cliffs (cf. 54, pp.175-6 and pl.XVII).

    045      |      Vol_VI-0055                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            Among freshwater habitats we may note the open boulder stream beds which

    are washed by torrents of snow-water in early summer and later dry out. They

    tend to be colonized by various open-soil plants, some of which were not en–

    countered elsewhere in the lowlands, and which typically include Salix arctica ,

    Epilobium latifolium , Cerastium alpinum , Papaver radicatum , and variuos Saxi–

    fragae. Where the water is far more lasting, as in the instance shown in

    Figure 23, the banks are often well vegetated and the bed may support long

    tassels of green algae and dark mosses. Small areas of “red snow”, in which

    the surface (1 to 2 cm.) of late-lying snow patches were colored a dull orange

    by Sphaerella ( Chlamydomonos ) nivalis , were noted both in the lowlands and on

    mountain slopes in early September 1934.

            Freshwater habitats tend to be more numerous and extensive at Clyde, where

    the vegetation is usually poorer, but the aquatic communities have been more

    investigated. The beds of persistent freshwater streams were in some places

    devoid of macroscopic plants, in others darkened by a fair growth of such mosses

    as Calliergon sarmentosum and Drepanocladus fluitans . On or among these mosses,

    or on scums or wefts of filamentous or other algae in slow eddies, occurred a

    considerable range of microscopic types. In lakes and tarns with muddy or sandy

    bottoms there were often no macroscopic plants to be seen, although, where there

    were stones or boulders, dark growths of such mosses as Calliergidium pseudo

    stramineum sometimes occurred. Brown or reddish scrapings, taken in mid–

    September 1936, from three rocks in one lake, yielded no less than 71 different

    species of algae. In some places where the water is very shallow, limited beds

    of Pleuropogon sabinii or Ranunculus hyperboreus are to be found, both with

    floating leaves, and in some sheltered situations, there may be more extensive

    swamps of Eriophorum scheuchzeri , E. angustifolium , Dupontia fisheri , or Carex

    046      |      Vol_VI-0056                                                                                                                  
    EA- [ ?] PS . Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    aquatilis var. stans . Distribution is very irregular, being dependent apparently

    to a large extent on chance dispersal; for much more often, even where condi–

    tions seem suitable for colonization by these or other marsh or semiaquatic

    types, the margins of lakes are largely barren.

            Of strand and marine habitats there was the usual range at Pengnirtung.

    Thus on dry sandy beaches there were to be found Arenaria peploides var. dif

    fusa , Mertensia maritima var. tenella , and Elymus arenarius var., and on damp

    salt-marsh areas near the water grew plentiful Puccinellia phryganodes ,

    P. Paupercula , Stellaria humifusa , and Carex glareosa var. amphigena . The tidal

    range is considerable, the foreshore being of mud or boulders that have their

    upper surfaces kept bare of vegetation by ice action, although their sides and

    the sheltered areas between are generally covered by a luxuriant mat of algae

    (Fig. 29). These are predominantly Fucus vesiculosus agg., which had fronds up

    to a meter long, though a considerable range of other types occurs. The only

    macroscopic algae to be seen on the exposed upper surface of the boulders were

    occasional minute squamules of the Fucus or the similarly abundant and wide–

    ranging Pylaiella littoralis , both of which were here largely limited to cracks.

    Except where the bottom was of mud, large laminarians soon took over the dominance

    below low tidemark, and farther down formed luxuriant beds.


    Southern Baffin Island

            [ ?] This district includes all of Baffin Island lying south of a line drawn

    from the Arctic Circle on the west coast to Neptune Bay on the east coast, and

    also the adjacent islands. Although the coasts are usually rugged and indented,

    the country tends to be lower than to the north, with the physiographic changes

    giving rounded hills rather than lofty mountains, and lakes and tarns almost

    047      |      Vol_VI-0057                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    everywhere numerous. The geology in the widest sense is relatively simple,

    the rocks of the ast and south coasts and most of the hinterland being Archaean

    gneisses and granites, and those around Amadjuak Lake and the northwestern

    plains being Paleozoic limestones. Locally, however, there are various compli–

    cations in the geology; and the surface has been further affected by glaciations,

    which persists to this day in the Grinnell Icecap of the southeast.

            The climate, although variable, tends to be rather more favorable than to

    the north. Thus Lake Harbour, which lies on the south coast and is probably

    widely typical, has a slightly higher temperature and heavier precipitation

    than Pangnirtung, whereas Resolution Island in the extreme southeast is markedly

    maritime in type, with the mean of the coldest months some 10°F. (5.6°C.) higher,

    and that of the warmest months nearly 10°F. lower than at Lake Harbour, and

    the precipitation averaging 19 inches annually.

            As regards the vegation, several observers have remarked ( in litt. et voce )

    on its luxuriance in many places about Frobisher Bay; on the other hand at

    Acadia Harbour, Resolution Island, growth is poor and the vegetation stunted.

    Of the easternmost of the upper Savage Islands, Lyon (31, p.32) remarks: “In

    the marshy ground, near the water, the vegetation was extremely luxuriant.

    Amidst the various mosses and grasses, the delicate white flower of the Andromeda

    [ Cassiope tetragona ], and brilliant yellow poppy, were eminently conspicuous. In

    drier places, a beautiful species of butter-cup was very abundant, as was also

    the dwarf willow.” Not far to the west lies Big Island, of which Bell writes

    (2, p.21DD): “The hills have a rounded sweeping outline, and their summits are

    a considerable distance apart. The wide even spaces between them hold shallow

    lakes, surrounded with green meadow-like flats and mossy slopes. The general

    aspect of the landscape reminds one of some parts of the Highlands of Scotland.”

    048      |      Vol_VI-0058                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            Inland to the north, Soper (66, p.34) has reported that “clumps of willow

    … range from six to ten feet in height. This is the only place in Baffin

    Island where such growths are known to occur.” Soper later (68, p.434) said

    they attai n ed “more than 12 feet” inland of where “bushy clumps from three to

    four feet high were frequently seen,” elsewhere remarking (69, p.113) that they

    “rank as by far the largest willows ever found in the eastern Canadian Arctic


            The plains bordering on Foxe Basin are low and swampy, with a climate

    adversely affected by the proximity of extensive ice fields. The vegetation

    is nevertheless locally continuous, consisting over considerable areas of a

    closed marshy tundra dominated principally by such sedges as Carex aquatilis

    var. stans, and bound by mosses with intermingled lichens. The associates

    are chiefly types which are plentiful in such situations even much farther

    north, e.g., species of Eriophorum , Poa arctica , Carex membranacea , Arcta

    grostis latifolia , Alopecurus alpinus , Dupontia fisheri , Cerastium alpinum ,

    Pleuropogon sabinii , Cardamine pratensis var. angustifolia , and Saxifraga hir

    culus. Small isolated ridges of granitic material support plants not found

    on the surrounding marshy limestone plains, e.g., Cassiope tetragona , Arcto

    staphylos alpina , Vaccinium vitis-idaea var. minor , and Empetrum nigrum var.

    hermaphroditum . To the south, the vegetation becomes progressively less im–

    poverished as Foxe Basin is crossed and the north shore of Hudson Strait is

    approached (66, pp.30 et seq .; T. H. Manning voce ). Cape Dorchester, the

    northernmost extremity of Foxe Peninsula, sounds very poorly vegetated, as

    “Patches of grass are few and far between, and vegetation is almost totally

    lacking, even moss and the customary heather-like dwarf shrubs being rare.”

    (59, p.16).

    049      |      Vol_VI-0059                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            Grøntved and Seidenfaden (21, pp.235 et seq .) report on the mid-July marine

    phytoplankton off Resolution Island, where for a considerable distance eastward

    the south-flowing Labrador Current prevails, “with a marked Coscinodiscus

    Ceratium arcticum - community. The surface samples … are almost identical,

    indicating very uniform conditions.” The only vertical haul made hereabouts

    was not far offshore and indicated that the surface is not necessarily the

    richest stratum in diatoms and other forms, for “the uppermost vertical sample”

    proved “richer in species and quantitatively much richer than the surface

    sample; in the deeper layers more eastern species are met with which are ab–

    sent or rare at the surface, viz. Chaetoceros atlanticus , C. decipiens , Rhizosolenia

    alata , Dactyliosolen , Dinophysis acuta , Peridinium ovatum , all forms whose occur–

    rence is either to be explained by the surface water having previously been of

    a less Arctic character, or by the occurrence of water masses at the deeper

    levels which have penetrated from the east below the Labrador Current.”

            As our main example for more detailed consideration we will take Lake Har–

    bour, situated in latitude 62°52′ N., and longitude 69°53′ W. Here the south

    coast of Baffin Island is indented and beset with islands, but the country is

    less rugged than on most of the east coast, being comparatively low although

    physiographically varied. The geology, too, is changeable, for although the

    fundamental rocks of the region are granites a n d gneisses, there are wide bands

    of schist and crystalline limestone or quartz-monzonite to add variety, and

    also areas of mixed morainic material. The vicinity of Cape Dorset (lat.

    64°10′ N., long. 76°30′ W.) has also been investigated vegetationally (cf. 46).

    Here the rocks are mainly dark granites and gneisses; temperature and other

    climatic conditions tend to be unfavorable; and the poorer plant communities

    may be contrasted with those inhabiting similar situations at Lake Harbour.

    050      |      Vol_VI-0060                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            Hill summits and slopes rarely exceed 700 feet (213 m.) around Lake Harbour.

    They have flat or rounded tops supporting some of the poorest plant communities

    of the district, although similar terrain and vegetation may also occur near

    sea level in the most exposed or otherwise unfavorable situations. Neverthe–

    less, on or near summits, any rock face or projecting boulder may be practically

    covered with crustaceous lichens or Gyrophorae, and the depressions between

    support quite numerous vascular plants as well as cryptogams. Thus on one sum–

    mit at 700 feet Salix uva-ursi formed close mats and Carex bigelowii , Hierochloe

    alpina , Luzula confusa , and Vaccinium uliginosum var. alpinum were all frequent;

    among them were collected 18 species of Bryophyta and 38 of Lichenes. It would

    seem that the majority of land plants of the district are able to persist well

    up the hills, provided the surface is not of unstable crystalline limestone

    which tends to be more poorly vegetated than the acid-weathering rocks.

            A slightly higher hill near Cape Dorset was relatively barren, with only

    Luzula confusa at all frequent among the vascular plants, though rock surfaces

    were almost everywhere darkened by quite numerous crustaceous and foliose

    lichens. However, on hillside screes and patches of soil, especially in

    crevices and behind blocks of rock, there may be a more considerable develop–

    ment of phanerogams, as shown in Figure 30.

            Lowlands occupy most of the area around Lake Harbour but are so various

    and mixed, geologically and otherwise, that their vegetation is extremely dif–

    ficult to survey. Ohly a few of the great range of habitats and communities

    will be mentioned. On crystalline limestone in exposed situations the vegeta–

    tion is frequently very sparse, owing particularly to the properties of the sub–

    stratum material which separates into coarse crystals that afford an unstable,

    alkaline, porous, and altogether inhospitable surface. Figure 31 shows such

    051      |      Vol_VI-0061                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    an area of Dryas barren in the foreground, in which the diminutive Carex

    rupestris was the only other phanerogam attaining a frequency degree of more

    than f (frequent), and cryptogams were little in evidence. With more shelter and

    stability, Dryas takes much more of a hold, being often so aided by woody and

    other associates that a continuous sward develops, e.g., on the lower slopes of

    depressions such as that shown in Figure 31. An example of this dwarf heath with

    Salix reticulata particularly prominent is seen in Figure 32. The more luxuriant

    heath developed under still more favorable conditions of shelter and snow cover–

    ing, as for example in the dark depression shown near the center of Figure 31,

    is much the same whether basic - or acid-weathering rocks form the substratum.

    The chief dominant is most frequently Vaccinium uliginosum var. alpinum , and

    the woody associates tend to be far more numerous than to the north, including

    as they may Cassiope tetragona and C. hypnoides , Empetrum nigrum var. herma

    phroditum , Ledum palustre var. decumbens , Phyllodoce coerulea , Salix spp., and,

    in some places, prostrate Betula glandulosa var. sibirica , Loiseleuria procum

    bens , and Vaccinium vitis-idaea var. minor .

            In spite of a general convergence, at least in their later stages in

    favored places, of the successions on rocks of different types, it is chiefly

    on acid-weathering substrat a that the highest vegetation of the district is to

    be found. This is a Betula-Salix scrub developed under the most favorable com–

    bination of conditions — with good shelter and snow covering (but not very

    late melting), lasting water supply (but good drainage), and southerly aspect.

    It thus represents a postclimax. The dominants are Betula glandulosa var.

    sibirica and Salix cordifolia var. callicarpaea , and they form bushlets that

    may spread laterally to attain a diameter of 3 meters, although rarely exceed–

    ing 50 centimeters in height. The scrub is generally irregular and interrupted

    by rocks or patches of lower heath in the manner shown in Figure 33. The chief

    associated heathy plants are Empetrum , Phyllodoce , and the two local Vaccinia,

    052      |      Vol_VI-0062                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    which together form a layer about 12 centimeters high that is bound by mosses,

    or, in some dry and open spots, by fruticose lichens. Only in limited tracts

    where the Betula axes form a dense tangle, occasionally exceeding their usual

    maximum thickness of 1 centimeter, is the ground largely covered with litter,

    so that the usually subdominant heaths are ousted. Notable in this community

    at the time of observation were both parasitic and saprophytic fungi, including

    a large Lycoperdon , and a Boletus with a pileus up to 8 centimeters in diameter.

    The soil was dark brown and largely of humus beneath the litter: where tested

    it attained the unusual degree of acidity, at least for the Arctic Archipelago,

    of pH 5.0.

            Covering far more extensive areas than the scrub are meadow-like flats or

    slight slopes, often of morainic origin, that appear in some cases to be influ–

    enced by solifluction, although the surface is generally smooth and evenly vege–

    tated by a closed but rather dwarf community of mixed heaths, sedges, and forbs

    (herbs other than those that are grasslike), with associated cryptogams of rather

    limited growth. True dominance is often lacking, the following being at least

    locally abundant in a 5-meter quadrat: Dryas integrifolia , Carex rupestris ,

    C. bigelowii , Oxytropis maydelliana , Salix reticulata , Vaccinium uliginosum var.

    alpinum , and Rhododendron lapponicum . Such parasitic fungi as Cintractia caricis

    are liable to be unusually rife.

            Marshes occupy many flats and low-lying, poorly drained, slight slopes

    around Lake Harbour. In type and composition they vary considerably from place

    to place, two extremes being illustrated in Figures 34 and 35, of which the

    former is a luxuriant type with water standing in many places, and the latter is

    a drier, hillock-tundra area whose composition on the tussocks approaches that

    of the heathy meadow last described. The most typical dominants are Arctagrostis

    latifolia , Carex membranacea , Eriophorum angustifolium (up to 45 cm. in height),

    053      |      Vol_VI-0063                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    E. callitrix , and Scirpus caespitosus var. callosus . A host of other vascular

    plants are usually present, including several Carices and species of Juncus ,

    Salix , and Equisetum , and mosses largely “fill in” the surface. These domi–

    nants and chief associates are generally much the same whatever the underlying

    rock may be. The reaction is neutral or slightly basic on the limestone and,

    wherever tested, not markedly acid even in marshes overlying the dark acidic


            At Dorset the marshes, in conformity with other habitats, tend to be more

    poorly vegetated than at Lake Harbour; Carex aquatilis var. stans is fre–

    quently the dominant, but, although Eriophora are usually also [ ?] plentiful,

    there often remain open areas (Fig. 36) allowing the establishment of such

    weaklings at Juncus biglumis and Epilobium davuricum var. arcticum , which are

    unable to withstand competition and so are largely confined to such young ter–


            The snow effect at Lake Harbour, in spite of the considerable snowfall and

    variable physiography, tends, because of the warm summer and consequent early

    melting of all except the deepest drifts, to be less marked than in places to

    the north or about Dorset where the summer is cooler. Especially are extremely

    late-snow inner zones and barren centers of snow patches rare around Lake Har–

    bour, where these centers are generally occupied by a relatively luxuriant herba–

    ceous community or a mixed and mossy mat, which is succeeded by a narrow zone

    dominated by dwarf Salices and then a bor ro ad one of dark Cassiope [ ?] tetragona .

    This is well seen in Figure 37, which shows the inner zone in the foreground,

    and Cassiope heath above, where the snow melts earlier and drainage is better.

    Figure 38 is a close-up of the Cassiope in flower, and also shows some of its

    chief phanerogamic associates. The open areas between the Cassiope tufts are

    054      |      Vol_VI-0064                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    largely occupied by such associates or by mixed mosses and lichens. Character–

    istic members of the inner herbaceous community include Oxyria digyna , Poly

    gonum viviparum , Erigeron unalaschkensis , Cerastium alpinum , Lychnis apetala ,

    Eutrema edwardsii , Poa alpina , Chrysanthemum integrifolium , Salix herbacea

    (with parasitic Melampsora bigelowii and Venturia ditricha ), Arenaria sajanen

    sis , Braya purpurascens , Carex scirpoidea , Parnassia kotzebuei , Trisetum spica

    tum , and Saxifraga spp.; the majority of which are open-soil plants unable to

    withstand competition from ranker denizens.

            At Dorset, late-snow patches tend to cover more extensive areas than at

    Lake Harbour, and to exhibit more numerous zones, five being commonly recog–

    nizable in the following sequence from a marginal zone of deeply covering but

    relatively early melting snow: ( 1 ) Cassiope tetragona with other ground shrubs

    such as Empetrum , the soil being humous and decidedly acid in reaction; ( 2 ) Salix

    herbacea with Luzulae and often Cassiope hypnoides and other species of Salix,

    and with such light-colored “crumbler” lichens as Ochrolechia frigida ; ( 3 ) an

    herbaceous half-barren where the growing season is too short for most woody

    plants, but much the same herbs occur as were mentioned above for such situa–

    tions at Lake Harbour, and, in addition, Carex lachenalii , Luzula confusa , Poa

    arctica , Sagina intermedia , and Silene acaulis var. exscapa , while the cryptogams

    are for the most part characteristic snow-patch species such as Gymnomitrium

    and Solorina crocea ; ( 4 ) an herb barren of, most characteristically,

    Phippsia algida , [ ?] Cerastium alpinum , Draba fladnizensis , Luzula confusa , Poten

    tilla hyparctica f. tardinix , Saxifraga cernua , S. nivalis , and S. rivularis ,

    whose flowering is frequently retarded until late summer (e.g., the end of

    August) in an average year, and where lichens are few and usually of poor growth;

    ( 5 ) in the most deeply drifted areas there is an almost barren central zone

    055      |      Vol_VI-0065                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    where the snow lies longest and may not melt at all in a cool summer, so that

    Phippsia algida is often the only phanerogam to attain more than the seedling

    stage, Bryophyta and Algae comprising most of the virtually negligible flora.

            Special localized habitats and communities around Lake Harbour include

    an interesting area of calcareous gravel that had been bared artificially

    and soon come to be colonized by numerous herbs, including several that ap–

    peared to be absent from surrounding areas but were here waxing unusually

    strong, such as Arabis arenicola and A. alpina (axes up to 35 cm. long), Draba

    norvegica var. hebecarpa , and Lesquerella arctica . About Dorset Settlement,

    too, are some plants that apparently owe their local presence to mankind,

    including Chrysosplenium tetrandrum and two species of Taraxacum ; the chief

    characteristic of the disturbed terrain is its luxuriant grassiness, which is

    due chiefly to dense tufts of Poa glauca .

            More important and extensive in the areas they occupy are the sunny flower

    slopes at Lake Harbour, which are developed where an unusually favorable com–

    bination of shelter, aspect, water, aeration, mixed (preferably friable) sub–

    stratum, and other factors results in the appearance of such a mass of more

    or less rank herbs that the usual heathy or other dominants are, it seems,

    unable to take hold. Most frequently such flowery slopes, which are generally

    rather steep, are developed below cliffs or weathering crags, where it may be

    that instability of the surface of the slide is chiefly instrumental in main–

    taining the herbaceous mixture which lacks true dominance (Figs. 39 and 40).

    Two 4-meter quadrats on such a flower slope gave a list of 39 species of flower–

    ing plants, almost all of which occurred in plenty, and several of which were

    growing more luxuriantly than was observed elsewhere in the vicinity. There

    also occurred the ferns Woodsia glabella and Cystopteris fragilis , but few

    mosses or lichens.

    056      |      Vol_VI-0066                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            Freshwater habitats , whether static or running, are variable around Lake

    Harbour. So is their vegetation, which changes from one example to another

    with obvious changes of the environment, but, especially in streams, may also

    differ entirely for no apparent reason in contiguous parts of the selfsame

    body of water. Stream beds are frequently darkened by long brown tassels

    of aquatic mosses, or give roothold in slow eddies to such phanerogams as

    Hippuris vulgaris , Colpodium fulvum var. effusum , Ranunculus trichophyllus

    var. eradicatus , R. hyperboreus , or tiny Eleocharis acicularis f. submersa .

    The associated algae are also mixed and variable. Thus of 35 species (exclude–

    ing Diatomeae) occurring in a total of 5 samples taken from two different

    streams in 1936, only 6 were identified in 2 samples and none was found in as

    many as 3. Again, in 2 samples of the algal investment of seepage areas on

    rocky cliffs, there occurred 21 species, but only 2 of these were identified

    from both samples, while only 4 of them were identified from the nearby streams.

            The communities of standing bodies of water and their margins are also

    extremely variable, the margins of lakes in exposed situations being often vir–

    tually barren,whereas in sheltered and muddy places a luxuriant marsh is usually

    developed. All conceivable intermediates occur, such as puddly swamps and inter–

    rupted areas of the nature of that shown in Figure 36 from Dorset. The swamps

    may be vegetated by such plants as Eriophorum angustifolium , Equisetum arvense ,

    [ ?] E. variegatum , Juncus arcticus , J. albescens , Carex membranacea , C. atro

    fusca , C. saxatilis var. miliaris , Dupontia fisheri , and Arctagrostis latifolia .

    Also characteristic of the less well vegetated lakesides are Carex rariflora ,

    Eriophorum callitrix , Salix arctophila , Tofieldia pusilla , and many other marsh

    species where such mosses as Drepanocladus sendtneri and Orthothecium chryseum

    partly consolidate the surface, and, in the open muddy areas that are inundated

    057      |      Vol_VI-0067                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    for some time after snow-melt, the smaller Junci, Deschampsia pumila , Eleo

    charis acicularis f. submersa , Ranunculus pallasii , Arenaria uliginosa ,

    Carex bicolor , and C. chordorrhiza occur. No less than 58 different species

    of algae were identified in two small samples of green slime and dark-brown

    bubbles formed on mud and taken from the bottom of one large lake near its

    margin, while algae were even more numerous in small shallow pools —

    especially Desmidiaceae in peaty puddles. Thus within 6 samples taken from

    such habitats in 1936, there occurred 179 different species and some further

    subsidiary entities of algae, among which Closterium , Cosmarium , Cymbella ,

    Euastrum , Navicula , Pinnularia , and Staurastrum were the genera most widely


            The seashore denizens include Fuci (principally Fucus vesiculosus , but

    there is also some F. evanescens ) which form luxuriant mats between, and on

    the sides of, sheltering rocks and boulders especially toward low tidemark.

    Where the shores are of inhospitable smooth rock or shifting mud or sand, how–

    ever, Fuci and large associates are few or even absent, although the usual

    Pylaiella littoralis and Ralfsia verrucosa are to be found in any pools. The

    Pylaiella may be especially plentiful, forming a greenish “felt” where streams

    of water (which may be largely fresh at low tide) are left; here also are to

    be found Chaetomorpha tortuosa , Enteromorpha micrococca , Ulothrix flacca , and

    many diatoms.

            In occasional small and shelving, sandy or muddy bays, there may develop

    a sward of Puccinellia phryganodes — often interrupted by boulders and beds

    of cast-up algae in the manner shown in Figure 41. [ ?] Above high tidemark

    there may be binding stands of coarse grasses or, particularly in muddy and

    sheltered places, a close sward including, besides Puccinellia phryganodes ,

    058      |      Vol_VI-0068                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    which is often of a reddish hue at this higher level, such salt-marsh and other

    types as Carex lachenalii vars., C. maritima , C. ursina , Cochlearia officinalis

    vars., Koenigia islandica , Montia lamprosperma , Phippsia algida , Potentilla

    egedii , Puccinellia paupercula , Stellaria crassifolia , and S. humifusa . At

    Cape Dorset the shingle was often colonized by Elymus arenarius var. villosis

    simus , Arenaria peploides var. diffusa , and Mertensia maritima var. tenella ,

    while Matricaria inodora var. nana , phases of Carex salina , and the moss

    Calliergon sarmentosum entered the miniature salt marshes.


    Melville Peninsula

            With its accompanying islands, Melville Peninsula has an area approaching

    30,000 square miles, but little is known about its vegetation. Nor is the

    flora as well known as that of most other parts of the Canadian Eastern Arctic.

    In the absence of any detailed account of the plant communities of even a

    single station, we shall have to be content with quotations from the literature

    and observations made from the air.

            The land, although oval in broad outline, is rendered irregular by bays

    and deeper indentations especially in the southeast. The surface is for the

    most part rather low, remaining below 300 feet (91 m.) in altitude over con–

    siderable areas, especially in the east. However, much of the a i nterior is of

    plateaus, undulating about 800 feet in elevation, and some heights exceed 1,000

    feet in the west and north (4, p. 30). The whole appears to have been intensely

    glaciated, with pointed peaks lacking and the lowlands largely occupied by

    glacial deposits that were rewashed by the sea before emergence. Other areas

    are occupied by series of long and low “beach ridges” with little or no stabil–

    izing vegetation.

    059      |      Vol_VI-0069                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            The main rocks appear to be dark-gray or reddish-brown gneisses, but

    the northern half of the east coast and its accompanying hinterland and

    islands are of light-colored, low, and almost flat limestone. The climate

    is evidently more comparable with that of Northern Baffin Island than with

    that of the regions lying to the south or east.

            The vegetation appears to be everywhere of the rather dwarf arctic type,

    nothing approaching tree growth having been observed. Thus, although Hall

    (22, p.357) reported from one place in Hoppner Inlet “an abundant growth of

    wood in a cluster of undergrowth showing some creeping trees which spread

    themselves out,” and said that one of these was “11 feet in height and 2 inches

    in diameter at the base,” it appears from the ensuing narrative that these

    “trees” were mere creepers or almost prostrate espaliers. Indeed the vegetation

    on the whole is unexpectedly poor, often comparing very unfavorably with that

    of Baffin Island at similar latitudes or even farther north. This may be due

    in part to exposure on either side to seas which are almost perpetually ice–

    covered, and in part to the yough of the terrain and the frequently inhospitable

    nature of the substrate. In this last connection it has been said (25, p.134)

    that “‘loose mineral matter of any kind seldom exceeds a foot in thickness;

    and beneath this the ground is literally frozen as hard as a rock, a pick-axe

    only bringing off dust and mere fragments, as from a mass of granite.’ Over

    this sub-soil lies a layer, more or less thick, of vegetable soil. The depth

    of the vegetable soil ‘seldom exceeds a very few, perhaps from four to five,

    inches, and that only in a few insulated spots, sheltered and otherwise favour–

    able for vegetation.” More frequently, however, the bare surfaces of the strata

    are exposed to the weather, and on these, and in the chinks of the rocks, a few

    plants, frequently cryptogamous, are seen struggling for existence.”

    060      |      Vol_VI-0070                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            With regard to general features, Freuchen and Mathiassen (16, p.555)

    write that “For the most part the peninsula offers a landscape of monotonous

    plains of recent unconsolidated material from which project low granite knolls

    of a rather rugged gneissic topography. As a rule the plains are occupied by

    shallow lakes or marshes, often overgrown with rushes ( carex ), willows, saxi–

    frage, cassiope, dryas, and various kinds of grasses.” Later on (16, p.558),

    the same authors report that “Driftwood was never seen along the coast, and

    the plant life is of little direct use for the Eskimos. Some cassiope and

    willows that attain a height of about half a metre in sheltered places in the

    extreme south of the peninsula are used for firewood, and the branches are

    braided into mats to be used underneath the skins in the snow huts. A few

    berries ripen during the summer but are not always gathered.” Parry reports

    (40, p.505) that the natives “sometimes eat the leaves of sorrel ( kongolek ,)

    and those of the ground willow; as also the red berries ( paoona - tootik ,) of

    the vaccinum uliginosum [sic], and the root of the potentilla pulchella ; but

    these cannot be said to form a part of their regular diet; scury grass they

    never eat.”

            Of the islands off the north coast, the geological formation is variable

    but the vegetation almost everywhere poor. Thus Liddon Island is said to be

    “almost entirely barren of the productions of the animal and the vegetable

    kingdoms” (40, p.324), while of Amherst Island, the northern half, which is

    composed of hard and resonant limestone, is, according to Lyon (31, p.270),

    “entirely void of vegetation,” whereas the southern part, which is covered

    with blackish schist, supports “in the valleys or swampy places, a very scanty

    covering of moss and shrivelled grass; on this we saw eight deer feeding.”

            Better known is the island of Igloolik, seat of the chief Eskimo settlement

    061      |      Vol_VI-0071                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    in these regions. It is of yellow or gray limestone and mostly low, the

    surface consisting almost entirely of “raised beaches of loose stones, rising

    one behind the other quite regularly and very slowly in towards the interior.

    These raised beaches are always bare, but the hollows between them are full

    of snow in winter, in summer partly full of swampy ground and small lakes,

    and to some extent covered with vegetation” (37, p.71). In a somewhat dis–

    turbed area on Igloolik, Parry (40, p.280) observed “a very abundant vegeta–

    tion, which is much favoured by the numerous streamlets and ponds, as well

    as by the manure afforded by the permanent residence of the Esquimaux near

    this spot. In some places were many hundred yards of square space covered

    with moss of a beautiful soft velvet-like appearance, and of a bright green

    colour such as I never saw before; and perhaps indeed moss cannot well be

    more luxuriant.”

            The northernmost part of the mainland south of Fury and Hecla Strait

    seems tolerably vegetated in some places, though Cape North East is, accord–

    ing to Parry (40, p.321), “inconceivably barren and desolate, with scarcely

    a tuft of moss or grass.” But “abreast the west end of Amherst Island,”

    and westward, are hills “having at their foot a sloping plain covered with

    fine pasturage, extending in one place four or five miles towards the sea”

    (40, p.339). In the region of Richards Bay, Parry mentions (40, p.333) “some

    pleasant valleys covered with grass and other vegetation, and the resort of

    numerous reindeer,” and also a low tableland “covered with abundant vegeta–

    tion, as well as intersected by numerous ponds of water.”

            For a long distance to the south, the east coast and immediate hinter–

    land are of relatively flat and poorly vegetated limestone, with monotonous

    series of raised beaches rising in regular succession but very gradually

    062      |      Vol_VI-0072                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    toward the interior, and oftenremaining virtually unvegetated, especially near

    the sea. Thus flying in from Foxe Basin to a little south of Hall Lake, the

    writer noted (44, p.254) that “South Ooglit Island and the adjacent coasts were

    all low and apparently of limestone - indeed much like the Spicer Islands in

    appearance. But inland the country appeared to get darker and higher, while

    away over beyond, probably near the west coast of Melville Peninsula, could

    be seen much higher though rounded hills which had almost the status of moun–

    tains … All land to the west of Hall Lake appeared to be of rather darker,

    acidic rock, the surface consisting mostly of grey scoured ‘hog’s-backs’ and

    wider depressions or flats interrupted by numerous small lakes or streams.”

            About the center of Melville Peninsula, at least to the south of Sarcpa

    Lake, bodies of fresh water occupied a smaller proportion of the area than is

    usual in such terrain in the Arctic; indeed sometimes there were scarcely any

    lakes or even tarns to be seen, especially in the vicinity of rivers, of which

    several of fair size were noted which are not marked on the maps. Figure 42

    shows such an area of dark acidic rock that appears to have been little com–

    minuted to give soil, and is but sparsely vegetated. Much of the interior of

    Melville Peninsula is of this nature, with rounded hogback hills or wider

    domes and rather few lakes; rocks predominate and “closed” vegetation appears,

    in general, to be confined to merely occasional favorable depressions. These

    are most often situated near bodies of water and are usually of quite limited

    extent, being probably most luxuriant on riverside flats. Occasionally, how–

    ever, there are to be seen plains where the dark-brown heathy or lighter grayish

    (probably marshy) vegetation appears from the air to be more or less continuous,

    so that although the vegetation as a whole is evidently poor, there are some

    considerable areas that may be up to one-third clothed with it. Especially on

    063      |      Vol_VI-0073                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    north-facing slopes in the higher, more dissected country may snow patches

    be numerous — as is seen in Figure 43, looking southward from about 5,000


            To the south the country is rocky but rolling and there are some fair–

    zied lakes, about which the surface looks smoother, with vegetation more

    luxuriant, especially on flattish areas near water. For the most part, how–

    ever, the vegetation appeared from the air to be unexpectedly poor; nor was

    there much sign of the yellowish or greenish lichenous growth that is usually

    to be seen in such interior regions, but instead a preponderance of grays and

    browns. Southward from about latitude 67°20′ N., lakes are still more numer–

    ous, sometimes covering up to about a quarter of the area, and, although

    barren-looking gray rock still predominates, there are some considerable

    smooth-looking vegetated areas (44, pp.255-56). On the east coast, the vege–

    tation appears, in general, to be more considerable on the Archean rocks of

    the south than on the limestone of the north. Thus, according to Mathiassen

    (37, p.76), Daugaard Jensen River has its lower course “through a low, grassy

    plain,” and Jameson reports (25, p.134) of Barrow River (lat. 67°14′ N.) that

    “Its banks are frequently steep and lofty, in some places being nearly 200

    feet high, and ornamented by a vegetation unusually luxuriant for so severe

    a climate,” while Lyon (31, p.223) observes t g h at farther inland “Rocks of

    gneiss and granite sometimes hemmed the stream, but more generally its shores

    were gently sloping from the plains, which abounded in flowery vegetation.”

    Farther south, opposite Winter Island, the vegetation appears to be rather

    poor, and on Winter Island itself the summer is apt to be very late in com–

    mencing (31; 40).

            In and around Lyon Inlet the granitic and gneissic hills are dark gray

    064      |      Vol_VI-0074                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    in color, irregular in outline, and largely barren about their tops. But in

    the valleys and smaller hollows the vegetation according to several observers

    is relatively luxuriant, as indeed it appears from the air. Thus Parry

    remarks (40, pp.83-84) that around Hoppner Inlet it “was abundant, consisting

    chiefly of short thick grass, moss [ Cassiope tetragona ], and [ Ledum palustre

    var. decumbens ], a sweet smelling plant which grew very luxuriantly. Much of

    the ground was wet and swampy, small lakes occurring in almost every hollow,

    and numerous streams of water running from the hills.”

            According to the author’s observation (44, p.257). “On the lower southern

    plains of Vansittart Island there appeared from the air to be a continous

    brownish vegetational investment over considerable areas, though the coast

    was in most places rather rocky or undulating, and accompanied by deep shelv–

    ing waters. The luxuriance seemed greater than anywhere we saw on Melville

    Peninsula” proper.

            A little farther to the west, on the south coast near Georgina Island,

    the vegetation according to Parry (40, p.107) is again “tolerably luxuriant,”

    there being “no want of feeding for” deer and hares; here “The grouhd-willow

    was very plentiful, and so dry at this season that we easily procured enough

    for keeping up a good fire all day.” Elsewhere on the Frozen Strait coast

    “On the banks of the lakes the vegetation was quite luxuriant, giving them

    when viewed from an eminence and assisted by bright sunshine a cheerful and

    picturesque appearance” (40, p.69). Red snow has been found in this region

    (40, p.65) as well as on Igloolik (24, p.428).

            Around Repulse Bay the country continues gneissic and rugged though

    nowhere high. According to Parry (40, p.52), “There was here no want of

    065      |      Vol_VI-0075                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    vegetation,” although the reports of other explorers indicate that it was

    scarcely as abundant as that usually reliable observer later implied (pos–

    sibly in enthusiasm following visits to more desolate shores) by saying that

    it was “in many parts extremely luxuriant.” To the northwest, in Rae Isthmus,

    the vegetation is probably better developed; thus around Muddy Lake, Rae

    (60, p.48) observed a coverage of “rich pasturage and a great variety of

    flowers,” and near Committee Bay, Burwash (8, pp.46-48) crossed “a wide

    grassy flat” and then climbed “steeply several hundred feet to a grassy

    plateau which was dotted with ponds and small lakes.” The west coast of

    Melville Peninsula is very little known, but such reports as there are of

    its vegetation suggest that this is for the most part scanty and poorly devel–



    Northernmost Labrador

            Because of the separation of Ungava and of our limitation to land lying

    north of the sixtieth parallel, this is by far the smallest of our districts;

    the country immediately to the south is dealt with separately. The outline

    of the coast of this district is extremely irregular, there being numerous

    indentations and accompanying islets. In the north lie the little Button

    Islands, and most of the central part is occupied by the larger Killinek

    Island, which is separated from the mainland by a narrow strait that is

    frozen over during much of the year, and that consequently affords little in

    the way of a barrier to plant and animal migration.

            The topography has many small local variations; it is only to the south

    of our southern boundary that the mountains become really high and the coun–

    try is rugged. The terrain consists mainly of rather small rounded hills of

    066      |      Vol_VI-0076                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    inconsiderable height, as seen in Figure 44, and has been intensely glaciated.

    So far as has been determined, the bedrock in our area is everywhere of acid–

    weathering type, consisting chiefly of granites and gneisses; but the surface

    is covered in many places with erractic material, frequently including much


            Compared with most other districts in our area the climate is maritime

    in type, although not so markedly as at Resolution Island. Thus the tempera–

    ture fluctuations at Port Burwell (see p.000) are greater than at Resolution

    Island, the average monthly means in degrees Fahrenheit for June, July,

    August, and September (during at least three of the years 1931-34) being 38°,

    44°, 44° and 40° at Port Burwell and only 34°, 39°, 39° and 36° at Resolution

    Island. However, Port Burwell is a cold and foggy place, the summer being

    less favorable than, for example, at Lake Harbour; it is also very wet,

    the precipitation being spread out rather evenly between the seasons and some–

    times considerably exceeding 20 inches (50.8 cm.) in a year.

            According to Prof. David Potter ( in litt. et voce ), the vegetation on the

    east coast is very similar to that developed at Port Burwell (see p.000), al–

    though in the southeast around McLelan Strait some of the communities look more

    luxuriant than any of those developed in the immediate vicinity of Port Bur–

    well, and there occur several plants that have not been found elsewhere in the

    entire Canadian Eastern Arctic. Farther south still, in the extreme southeast

    corner, is the entrance to Ekortiarsuk Fjord of which Forbes remarks (15, p.95),

    though he was concerned largely with the inland regions just outside the south–

    ern boundary of our area: “The contrast between the steep, dark cliffs and

    the wide, level grasslands in the warm afternoon sunshine was vivid and pleas–

    ant; and in the sheltered waters of the fiord we felt that we had come to a

    067      |      Vol_VI-0077                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    singularly favored hav en.” However, to the north, the nearly 1,500-foot

    high and exposed Cape Chidley and the less lofty Button Islands are rather

    poorly vegetated. The highest of the Buttons, Lacy Island, attains an eleva–

    tion of 951 feet (75, p.309) and according to Prof. Potter it has developed a

    Cassiope heath as its most advanced community, though the majority of the

    species that are most common around Port Burwell are also to be found on

    this island.

            Port Burwell, lying off the west coast in latitude 60°25′ N., may be

    taken for more detailed consideration as being probably representative vege–

    tationally of most of this limited district. A much visited place, it is the

    only one in our area from which any plant species has been recorded as “just

    possibly introduced” (45, p.374, with reference to Stellaria calycantha ). The

    land around Port Burwell is complicatedly hilly, with steep rocky scarps and

    rounded hills that are, however, never more than a few hundred feet high. As

    seen in Figure 44, there is little level ground in the neighborhood.

            The hills and steep slopes are insufficiently high to prevent sheltered

    depressions in them from supportingclosed mossy heaths that differ scarcely at

    all from those developed in the valleys. The more exposed surfaces are occu–

    pied by heaths of depauperated kinds, much interrupted by bare rocks. The chief

    plants are such ground shrubs as Arctostaphylos alpina , Vaccinium uliginosum

    var. alpinum , Salix arctica , and S. uva-ursi , and they are associated with

    grassy and other herbs (especially Cardamine bellidifolia f. laxa , Carex

    misandra , Festuca brachyphylla , Hierochloe alpina , Luzula confusa , Poa arctica ,

    Stellaria longipes , and Drabae) to form mats wherever the substratum allows.

    The chief “binder” in exposed situations is the silvery-gray moss Rhacomitrium

    lanuginosum , and it may also act as a pioneer, spreading over the rock surface

    068      |      Vol_VI-0078                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    and allowing higher plants that can root in its luxuriant mat to colonize the

    area. Such light-colored mats of this moss are seen occupying ledges in the

    center of Figure 45, which shows the side of a typical small rocky hill in

    this district. The luxuriance of the mosses, which are often more in evidence

    than lichens even on exposed summits, is doubtless a corollary of the damp

    and foggy climate. However, on the actual rock faces, which are usually intact

    and smooth, lichens are the chief or only denizens and more or less cover the

    surface. More than twenty crustaceous and other species were noted as taking

    an important part in such colonization of one small area. Ledges covered with

    mineral material, and crevices or depressions in the rocks, afford a roothold

    for a considerable range of open-soil plants, the majority of which reach

    high latitudes and are found to the south only in the virtual absence of compe–

    tition (cf. 43, pp.271-73).

            Many of the lower hills, especially, are more or less covered with trans–

    ported erratic material, which is often variable from place to place. It may

    even have been rafted on icepans or icebergs, and with it may perhaps have been

    transported living i disseminules or even whole plants. Such deposits at Port

    Burwell are often highly calcareous, effervescing violently with acid and giving

    a basic reaction, and supporting an open community of mixed composition include–

    ing each calcicoles as Carex glacialis , Saxifraga aizoides , Salix calcicola ,

    Braya purpurascens , Kobresia simpliciuscula , and Puccinellia vahliana , which

    were little if at all in evidence in surrounding areas. Figure 46 shows such

    a tract in which the vegetation was poor but the flora large and varied, as is

    often the case in limestone terrain.

            Valleys occupy rather a small proportion of the total land area around

    Port Burwell. The substratum is variable in type and composition; although

    069      |      Vol_VI-0079                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    the bedrock is of granite or gneiss, there are erratic deposits and raised

    beaches in many places. Local conditions such as aspect, drainage, shelter,

    and snow covering, also vary within wide limits — often drastically in closely

    contiguous areas — and as a result the vegetation is vari o a ble and patchy in

    the extreme. Thus, almost all of the communities of the hills are to be found

    also in the valleys, where there are in addition others too numerous to men–

    tion, besides those described later under “Marshes” and “Snow Effect.” Per–

    haps most typical of all, and covering considerable areas in favorably shel–

    tered situations (though rarely extending far without interruption by some

    other facies or entirely different community), is the ordinary mixed heath to

    be found on slopes and well-drained flats. Its chief dominants are Empetrum

    nigrum var. hermaphroditum , Vaccinium uliginosum var. alpinum , V. vitis-idaea

    var. minor , and various Salices, and they are generally much mixed and change–

    able in different examples, sometimes varying even from one spot to the next

    within an area of apparently identical habitat conditions. Associated are

    various herbs, of which the most characteristic include Antennaria angustata ,

    Carex bigelowii , C. scirpoidea , Juncus trifidus , Hierochloe odorata , Lycopodium

    selago , Potentilla crantzii and Pyrola grandiflora . In a few places Anemone

    and Campanula rotundifolia s.l. are of some ecological importance

    in this community, where Salix cordifolia var. callicarpaea may show a tendency

    toward bush formation, although no true scrub has been observed in the vicinity.

    Indeed, the highest plants around Port Burwell appear to be grasses, which in

    favorable places attain 45 centimeters in height, and in the case of Calamagros

    tis canadensis var. scabra may considerably exceed this. The growth of the

    dominants is often so luxuriant that there is little room for subsidiary vas–

    cular plants; thus, frequently only six or eight associates having a frequency

    070      |      Vol_VI-0080                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    degree of more than r (rare) can be found in a 4-meter quadrat, and there

    are also few casuals. Cryptogams form a luxuriant investment in which Rhacomi

    trium lanuginosum often predominates, and include some relatively hygrophytic

    species among the dozen chief mosses; lichens tend to be less important among

    the “fillers,” but nevertheless numerous and much in evidence in some places —

    especially in open patches in the heath where a [ ?] luxuriant caribou-moss sward

    is apt to the developed, dominated chiefly by Cladonia mitis . Fingi Fungi are also

    plentiful, with the beneficial snow covering, appreciable littler, and slight

    but distinct acidity.

            Marshes , as a result of the intricately changing physiography, are usually

    of small extent around Port Burwell in spite of the damp climate. However,

    marshy areas of one sort or another are numerous in the valleys and quite vari–

    able in type and composition. The chief phanerogams here include various

    species of Eriophorum (especially E. angustifolium and E. scheuchzeri ), Dupontia

    fisheri , Salix arctophila , Carex membranacea , C. rariflora , and in places,

    Juncus arcticus and J. castaneus . Their more notable associated include not

    merely the usual Cardamine pratensis var. angustifolia , Carex lachenalii ,

    Equisetum arvense , E. varigatum , Juncus albescens and J. biglumis , Luzula

    nivalis , Lychnis apetala , Polygonum viviparum , Saxifraga foliolosa , and Tofieldia

    pusilla, but sometimes also such southern types as Cardamine pratensis var.

    palustris , Cerastium cerastoides, Deschampsia alpina , and Potentilla palustris .

    It may perhaps be in relation to this southern tendency that two of the main

    dominants of most marshes to the north, Arctagrostis latifolia and Carex

    aquatilis var. stans , are rare and apparently absent, respectively, around

    Port Burwell.

    071      |      Vol_VI-0081                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            Two 2-meter quadrats taken at random a few meters apart in the selfsame

    marsh contained a total of 15 vascular plant species, of which only 6 had the

    same frequency degree in the two, and only 9 were common to both — indicating

    their very different composition and, possibly, the youth of the terrain.

    Occupying almost the whole of the area between the axes of these higher plants,

    and forming a rather smooth, damp mat, were a mixed assemblage of mosses of

    luxuriant growth, into which the feet sank for several centimeters. Ten

    species appeared to be particularly involved in the quadrat areas, including

    Sphagnum teres ; lichens were generally absent, but a considerable range of

    fungi occurred, including plentiful Omphalia umbellifera . The soil was dark

    and “squishy” to a depth of at least 30 centimeters, being penetrated by the

    roots of the dominants to about 25 centimeters. A rather poor marsh is seen

    in the foreground of Figure 47, with behind it a lake at the foot of a low,

    rocky hill.

            The snow effect around Port Burwell finds frequent but variable expression,

    owing to the heaviness of the snowfall and the cha n geable physiography. Thus

    the exposed uplands are wind-swept almost clear of snow in winter, the narrower

    valleys being contrastingly deeply accumulative. The margin of one ravine-like

    valley of deep drifting and late melting is seen in Figure 48; Salix herbacea

    is dominant, and there is much Taraxacum lapponicum , Veronica alpina , and Epilo

    bium anagallidifolium , with nearby some Parnassia Kotzebuei . Where large and

    lasting drifts accumulated, about five zones are to be seen with reasonable

    clarity. They follow much the same sequence as similar patches in Baffin Island,

    the chief differences being in the local rarity of Cassiope tetragona and in

    the number of southern associates — several of which are entirely unknown to

    the north, and many of which can be found still in flower until the end of summer

    072      |      Vol_VI-0082                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    in such areas. Most notable among the relatively temperate species charac–

    teristic of snow patches at Port Burwell are Draba crassifolia , Epilobium

    anagallidifolium , Equisetum scirpoides , Gnaphalium supinum , Parnassia kotze

    buei , Sagina saginoides , and Veronica alpina (including var. unalaschkensis ).

            A typical sequence of the zoned subclimaxes characterizing the larger

    and longer-lasting snow patches in this district is as follows, progressing

    from the margin to the center: ( 1 ) A fairly luxuriant, mixed heath usually

    dominated by Vaccinium uliginosum var. alpinum , but with associated Dryas

    integrifolia and often the weaker Cassiope hynoides and Salix herbacea .

    The pH may be as low as 5.6. ( 2 ) A dwarfed zone where the snow melts too

    late to allow the usual dominants to complete their life processes in a normal

    summer, so that the diminutive Cassiope hypnoides is generally dominant, with

    much associated Salix herbacea and Sibbaldia procumbens — also, frequently,

    Arabis alpina , Erigeron unalaschkensis , Juncus trifidus , Poa alpina , and Poly

    gonum viviparum . The pH here, as farther in toward the center of the snow

    patch, is noticeably higher than in zone 1. ( 3 ) A well-marked Salix herbacea

    zone in which this diminutive dominant covers most of the area (cf. Fig. 48),

    often with as many as thirty associates, the most characteristic being such

    herbs as Arenaria sajanensis , Cerastium cerastoides , Epilobium anagallidifolium ,

    Ranunculus pygmaeus , Taraxacum lapponicum , and Veronica alpina . Gray crumbler

    lichens and Solorina crocea persist, but bryophytes now form most of the crypto–

    gamic investment. ( 4 ) A mossy zone characterized by the luxuriant Gymnomitrium

    corallioides and such open-soil herbs as Cerastium alpinum , Luzula confusa , and

    Oxyria digyna . ( 5 ) An herb barren characterized by Phippsia algida and a few of

    the quickest-flowering denizens of surrounding areas; lichens are here largely

    absent and mosses often poorly developed.

    073      |      Vol_VI-0083                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            Freshwater habitats are numerous and variable around Port Burwell, with

    the damp climate, nonporous bedrock, and changeable terrain. Examples

    include plentiful small streams which persist throughout the summer; their

    beds, where stony, having typically a brown or greenish investment of mosses,

    with or without such algae as Chaetomorpha sp. and long tassels of Stichococcus

    subtilis . Where the current is slow and the bed is of mud, brownish investments

    containing numerous microscopic forms occur, so that 38 different species of

    diatoms and desmids were determined in two samples taken from a single stream

    in late July 1936. In seepage from rocks and on the surface of damp earth

    beside streams and about human habitations, Prasiola crispa was plentiful, as

    often to the north. Figure 49 shows a streamlet flowing through the settlement,

    where the manuring and general disturbance has allowed luxuriant grasses (in

    particular Alopecurus alpinus and Poa arctica ) to replace the usual sedges and

    nearby heaths.

            Algal life is also abundant around the margins of [ ?] tarns, especially in

    late summer. Thus, no less than seventy species and some additional intraspeci–

    fice entities were identified from two small samples taken from different, rather

    peaty pools toward the end of July 1936 — long before late summer in this region.

    Here abouts were also to be found such aquatic mosses as Calliergon giganteum var.

    fluitans , which may form large, dark-brown beds, and, in a few lakes, Ranunculus

    trichophyllus var. eradicatus and Hippuris vulgaris. Ranunculus hyperboreus and

    Equisetum arvense may also grow as [ ?] aquatics in shallow water, the latter being

    then remarkably attenuated. Where the bottom is of mud and the situation fairly

    shallow, Eriophorum angustifolium may grow out to form luxuriant beds, although

    in exposed situations, at least on the leeward side, a turfy “hard line” of

    matted roots and humous is more frequently developed, as in the north.

    074      |      Vol_VI-0084                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    Uncolonized rocky shores are common, as are muddy ones, although the mud, like

    damp depressions in marshes, may support large gelatinous colonies of Nostoc

    commune or other common Cyanophyceae, or more rarely, of Lyngbya aerugineo

    caerulea .

            The strand and marine surfaces consist in most places of smooth rock

    supporting such diminutive or chasmophytic algae as grinding ice will allow.

    However, in a few places small pebbly or sandy beaches occur and support the

    usual beds of Elymus arenariums var. villosus , with or without Mertensia

    maritima var. tenella and Arenaria peploides. Festuca rubra var. arenaria

    is especially plentiful higher up on such shores. In some more muddy situa–

    tions small areas of diminutive salt marsh are to be found, dominated by the

    usual Puccinellia phryganodes . The most characteristic associates are much as

    in Southern Baffin Island, namely, Carex glareosa var. amphigena , C. salina

    [. ?] approaching var. subspathacea , Cochlearia officinalis vars., Koenigia islandica ,

    Potentilla egedii approaching var. groenlandica , and Stellaria humifusa . These

    areas of salt marsh are best developed around the shores of brackish lagoons

    in sheltered situations, where they have the form of a dense sward, principally

    composed of matted roots and stolons of the dominant Puccinellia . Typical

    algae of these brackish or tidal lagoons include Cladophora arcta , Desmarestia

    aculeata , Dictyosiphon foeniculaceus , Enteromorpha ramulosa , Pylaiella lit

    toralis , and species of Rhizoclonium and Ulothrix .

            In all but the most exposed places, rocks and boulders around high tidemark

    support small algae, which may form an almost contin u ous investment. The chief

    plants in one such association were Pylaiella littoralis , Rhizoclonium riparium

    var. implexum , Ulothrix laetevirens , and U. speciosa — also much Lyngbya nord

    gardii on the Rhizoclonium . Between tidemarks the rocks may be festooned with

    075      |      Vol_VI-0085                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    algae in sheltered situations, the dominant here being the familiar Fucus

    , or sometimes, locally, Ascophyllum nodosum . Lower down, where

    codfish abound, fine beds of large Laminaria saccharina and Alaria esculenta

    are to be seen, with associated Rhodymenia palmata and doubtless a host of

    other brown and red algae, as well as several large Chlorophyceae.


    Northernmost Quebec

            The part of the Ungava Peninsula, comprising northernmost Quebec, which

    lies north of the sixtieth parallel, is roughly semicircular in outline and has

    an area of some 50,000 square miles. The eastern shore bordering on Ungava Bay

    has numerous accompanying islands, the water being shallow and the coast com–

    paratively low. To the west, along Hudson Strait, the coast is usually higher

    and more rugged, and at Cape Wolstenholme, in the extreme northwest, the cliffs

    are truly stupendous; to the south, however, along the east coast of Hudson

    Bay, the levels soon fall again. [ ?]Inland, the terrain constitutes a plateau

    of no great height, dissected by numerous lakes and rivers and consisting for

    the most part of rolling country in which the differences of elevation rarely

    exceed a few hundred feet and the altitude above sea level is usually of the

    order of 1,000 feet (305 m.). In the words of Havergal ( 18 19 , p. 9) “The country

    seems unfinished, as if it had been left as a specimen to show what other coun–

    tries may have been at the termination of the glacial epoch, when the rivers

    had not worn down their beds, and valleys and basins had not been formed.”

    Although the hills are rounded and all areas appear to have been intensely

    glaciated, no major icecap occurs on the Ungava Peninsula at the present time.

    Figure 50 is an aerial photograph from 4,000 feet showing this barren-looking,

    undulating country in latitude 66°16′ N. and longitude 70°58′ W. Lakes are

    076      |      Vol_VI-0086                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    numerous, and much of the land surface is occupied by boulder fields or soil


            The geology in broad outline is comparatively simple, the bedrock almost

    everywhere being of Laurentian gneiss or fine-grained granite. Up to 350 feet

    (107 m) almost everywhere, and in places to twice that altitude, the surface

    is veneered with rewashed glacial material which may form fairly extensive beds

    in which particles of shell and erratic limestone frequently occur. The climate

    is relatively favorable, at least in places near the coast, being at Cape Hopes

    Advance rather closely comparable with that at Lake Harbour — which is not

    surprising, considering that it lies not far away on the other side of Hudson

    Strait. Thus the two places have a similar growing season of about four months,

    with the temperature occasionally exceeding 70°F., and a similar total precipi–

    tation of approximately 14 inches (35.5 cm.) in an average year.

            Conditions and the attendant vegetation appear to be rather poor on the

    east coast to the south of Cape Hopes Advance. Even in the extreme south of

    our area around Payne Bay, although the vegetation is fairly luxuriant in

    sheltered valleys, it is sparse in most areas according to C. H. Ney ( voce ),

    who reports that although occasional specimens of Betula glandulosa var. sibir

    ica or Salix cordifolia var. callicarpaea may rise a few inches above the sur–

    face of the ground, no real scrub is to be seen near the Ungava Bay coast here–

    abouts. However, well inland, where the rocky hills “rise to about 600 feet

    farther up the river … the climate … appears to be more moderate than on

    the open seacoast as willows grow to bushes several feet high” (according to

    ref. 65, p.35). On the banks of the Payne River about 40 miles from its mouth

    may be seen what appears from the air to be quite luxuriant willow scrub, though

    nothing approaching tree growth has been observed (44, p.151).

    077      |      Vol_VI-0087                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            Concerning the Hudson Strait coast to the north, S. C. Knapp reports ( in

    litt .) that inland of Diana Bay “growth is generally very stunted, even the

    willows in the more sheltered valleys rarely rising more than a foot above the

    surface of the ground, and … of all the many hundreds of miles I have tra–

    velled in the Arctic, I have not yet met the place so rich in lichen as this.

    The meadows stretch for acres uninterrupted by rock, and clothed with deep rich

    lichen with the usual grass growing up between. There is mil upon mile of

    them - dry, rich sandy soil clothed with moss and lichen. The richness and

    abundance of the lichen more than the moss is simply wonderful; a reindeer

    herd would go for years here without want.” To the west, inland of Burgoyne

    Bay (lat. 61°15′ N., long. 71°35′ W.), gray, rocky terrain prevails, lacking

    continuous vegetation except over limited tracts in occasional sheltered, brown,

    marshy depressions or still narrower, mossy ledges in favorable situations.

    Lichens are less in evidence than farther inland, presumably owing to the damper

    climate near the coast.

            To the north, well sheltered by high and rugged hills, lies Wakeham Bay,

    among whose often luxuriant plant communities the writer has made detailed in–

    vestigations to which reference will frequently be made below. Farther to the

    northwest, in Douglas Harbour, luxuriant scrub may be seen on the gentler, lower

    slopes and streamside flats, and on alluvial delta “cones” in sheltered valleys

    running in from the coast (cf. 28). Inland of here, even on the uplands which

    attain an altitude of 1,500 feet, there are some goodly tracts of brownish or

    greenish vegetation developed in many of the more favorable, sheltered situa–

    tions in the undulating and otherwise light-colored, gravelly, boulder, or

    clay plains, and even around exposed hilltops some smaller colonized tracts

    are to be seen, with long and conspicuous solifluction streaks extending down

    078      |      Vol_VI-0088                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    the gentler slopes. The dark strips appeared from the air to be covered

    and at least partly stabilized by vegetation, the lighter ones that separated

    them being probably unstable. However, from a 1,860-foot (567 m.) vantage

    point Low observed (28, p.9L) that “The view from the summit is very desolate.

    Barren, rocky or boulder-covered hills on all sides, run in low rounded

    ridges separated from one another by small deep valleys filled with snow;

    the surface, wherever there is sufficient soil, was covered with lichens di–

    versified with a few arctic flowers, but not in the beautiful abundance met

    with in the valleys.”

            To the northwest, toward Cape Weggs, the vegetation appeared not at all

    extensive and luxuriant except in the most favorable lowland situations;

    more often the domed hills and slopes were largely barren, with various polygon

    and solifluction phenomena plainly visible from the air, and snow patches

    plentiful even in August. Farther west still, [ ?] at Sugluk (lat. 62°15′ N.,

    long. 75°21′ W.), the hills are less high than in places to the east and

    west; the fundamental rocks are gray or reddish gneisses, but deposits of

    rewashed glacial material cover many lowland areas. Such surfaces look an

    almost continuous velvety green, at least in July, due to vegetation, which

    forms a more or less luxuriant carpet (Fig. 51) almost everywhere except on

    exposed hilltops and rocky crags. The flora and vegetation are much as at

    Wakeham Bay, the tallest willows, which form a scrub in sheltered depressions

    and on some of the most favorable south-facing slopes, being in both places

    some 50 to 60 centimeters high. Rather similar flower slopes were noted in

    both these places as at Wolstenholme (see below), and the same observation

    was made in all three places that vegetation tended to develop earlier each

    year on the hills than in the valleys, probably owing to the relative lack

    079      |      Vol_VI-0089                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    of snow covering on all raised areas. Figures 52 and 53 depict xeric and

    hydric habitats, respectively, at Sugluk; the former showing a large clump

    of Dryopteris fragrans on a dry outcrop of gneiss, with Poa arctica and

    Arnica alpina s.l. in the foreground, and many lichens on the rock face,

    while the latter shows an area of marsh dominated in the center by Erio

    phorum spissum and elsewhere by Carices and Salix arctophila with associated


            Around Cape Wolstenholme the vegetation, which will be described in

    detail below, is noticeably poorer than at Sugluk and Wakeham Bay, though

    inland to the southeast, except on rocky outcrops and the taller hills, it

    is apt in many places to appear from the air to be almost continuous, with

    fine, bright-green scrub in the more sheltered valleys. The Digges Islands

    appear on the whole to be exposed and rather poorly vegetated, as does the

    east coast of Hudson Bay to the south of Cape Wolstenholme. But inland, as

    Bell remarks (3, p.12DD), “the grasses and sedges, and a variety of Arctic

    plants which grow around the ponds and lakes, and in sheltered places among

    the hills, give the landscape a pleasantly green appearance in many places.”

            Farther south still, near Cape Smith, the writer has landed and found

    the flora to be large and interesting, including Antennaria tweedsmuirii ,

    Chrysomyxa empetri , Festuca vivipara var. hirsuta , Rustroemia poluninii ,

    and Staurastrum compactum , which are not known from elsewhere in our area.

    However, the vegetation in this region of blackish diabase is liable to be

    poor, with only intermittent patches that are really closed — at least on

    the exposed coast, which alone was investigated. The communities noted

    included an apparently slightly brackish one developed in shallow tarns near

    the shore, consisting of dense beds of Potamogeton filiformis , with abundant

    080      |      Vol_VI-0090                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    associated Hippuris vulgaris , and in places much Eleocharis acicularis f.

    submersa , Pleuropogon sabinii , and Ranunculus trichophyllus var. eradicatus .

    Southward of Cape Smith, for 120 miles to Cape Dufferin, which lies outside

    our area, “The Coast … is in the form of a bay and much more broken; it

    is a low fenny marsh, with little tufts here and there” (according to 19,


            In the interior, detailed observations on the vegetation have been made

    about McGill Lake (near lat. 60°16′ N. and long. 70°58′ W.), where the vege–

    tation proved unexpectedly poor (44). The country here is undulating (Fig.

    50), with usually rounded hills rising at most a few hundred feet from a gen–

    eral altitude of about 900 feet (275 m.) [ ?] the flora [ ?] is limited, and plant

    growth almost everywhere depauperate, with no proper scrub. Lakes and tarns

    account for perhaps a third of the total area, and barren, gray, rocky hills

    or fields of loose boulders for nearly another quarter, the remainder being

    made up of flattish plains or more gently domed, raised, gravelly tracts that

    from a distance look tolerably well vegetated. However, on investigation the

    plains prove to be occupied by thin marshes in damp places and scanty, lichen–

    ous heaths or polygon-interrupted detrital fields in drier area; where the

    vegetation is continuous it is thin and composed largely of [ ?] lichens

    (especially Alectoria spp.). In spite of the low latitude, the vegetation

    around McGill Lake is fully arctic in type, with Cassiope tetragona the most

    characteristic ground shrub. Indeed, except in some marshy and heathy areas

    to the south, the soil is thin and the vegetation as a whole has taken little

    hold of the surface. The following were the main habitats distinguished:

    gravelly or sandy flats and banks, rocky barrens and boulder fields, mixed

    heathy areas, polygon soils, marshy depressions, lakes and streams and their

    081      |      Vol_VI-0091                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    margins, late-snow areas and surrounding zones. Examples of all these were to

    be seen in almost any small tract of country, and between them they accounted

    for practically the whole of this disappointing region.

            To the south of McGill Lake, willow scrub reappears on the banks of the

    Payne River and, more extensively, to the south of our area near Polunin Lake.

    To the northwest and north-northwest of McGill Lake and terrain appeared from

    the air to be similar but the vegetation somewhat less depauperate. Something

    like a quarter of the area was occupied by lakes, and a half by barrens or

    else yellowish-green or sooty-looking, probably lichenous heaths. The remainder

    was of gray rock or boulder fields, or brown vegetated areas that appeared to

    be marshy and here occupied more of the area than for some distance to the south.

    The domes of small hills often had their sides yellowish and their tops darker

    with lichens. North of about latitude 60°28′ N. and longitude 71°25′ W., the

    country looked more interesting, with less standing water but fine green tracts,

    probably of willow scrub, along the frequent streams, and rivers. The valleys

    here were wide and open, with extensive areas of brown marshy or heathy vege–

    tation, until the vicinity of an unnamed lake in about latitude 60°40′ N. and

    longitude 71°37′ W. saw a return to lighter gray, relatively barren terrain

    strewn with boulders and with much bedrock in situ .

            Much of the country in the interior of Ungava farther west is gray and

    rocky and relatively barren, the vegetation being discontinuous, and nothing ap–

    proaching tree growth being known, although in such favored spots as Kovik Gorge

    there may be willows up to 8 or 10 feet high, with trunks up to 4 inches in

    diameter (D. F. Coates and W Carr, voce ). Far in from the coast there appears

    from the air to be more light yellow coloration due to lichens than is the case

    near the sea, but almost everywhere at least one-quarter of the area is occupied

    082      |      Vol_VI-0092                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    by lakes, and much of the rest by raised “tops.” In places the country looks

    more rocky and broken, in places undulating and lichen-rich, but for the most

    part it seems relatively flat and featureless. However, about the larger

    rivers, such as the North Payne and Povungnituk, lakes are fewer and there

    tend to be smooth slopes and hummocky domes supporting more luxuriant vege–

    tation than most surrounding areas. For example, to the south of Sugluk,

    although polygons disturb the surface and snow patches persist in the exposed

    uplands, the more favored areas appear to be continuously vegetated, and some

    of the most sheltered valleys support quite luxuriant scrub.

            As our example for detailed consideration we will take the vicinity of

    Cape Wolstenholme, most northerly point of the mainland of Quebec, which is

    situated in latitude 62°35′ N. and longitude 77°30′ W. At the cape and during

    several visits to Eric Cove, which lies a few miles to the southeast, the writer

    has made investigations of the vegetation which have also extended for some

    miles inland. The account will be supplemented by notes from Wakeham Bay (about

    lat. 61°36′ N. and long. 71°57′ W.), where the vegetation is often more lux–

    uriant but on the whole probably less typical of the region, although the country

    is almost as rugged and the geology similar.

            At Cape Wolstenholme the cliffs are sheer and about 1,260 feet high, and

    southward at a considerable altitude extends a broken plateau from which hills

    rise to a maximum of some 2,000 feet (75, p.345). These uplands are rocky and

    barren and the lowlands in most places far from luxuriant, as the climate is

    cool and foggy and the region as a whole very “late,” with persistent snow

    patches plentiful even near sea level toward the end of summer. The fundamental

    rocks are gneisses, some bands being highly ferruginous and imparting a reddish–

    brown aspect to weathered surfaces and the soil. The lowlands and side valleys

    083      |      Vol_VI-0093                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    up to nearly 700 feet (213 m.) show a fine series of marine terraces. These

    consist of rewashed glacial material that in places contains a fair amount

    of limestone and marine shells, having consequently a considerable calcium

    carbonate (CaCO 3 ) content.

            The uplands , as far as they were explored, appeared capable, although

    with gradual reduction in luxuriance and in the number of associates, of

    supporting the blueberry heath and some other relatively advanced communities

    of the lowlands to at least 800 feet (cf. Fig. 54). Thereafter, such lowland

    communities became more and more restricted to occasional small areas that

    offered unusually favorable conditions of shelter, aspect, and soil accumula–

    tion. In general, above 1 ,000 feet the plateau and hills are rocky and barren,

    even around lakes, as witnessed by Figure 55, showing a typical area of rocky

    slopes, crags, and boulder fields devoid alike of soil and vegetation. To be

    sure, rock surfaces are often clothed with crustaceous and other lichens, and

    patches of more finely comminuted soil may support such high-arctic vascular

    plants as Cassiope tetragona , Eriophorum scheuchzeri , Hierochloe alpina , Luzula

    confusa , Phippsia algida , Pleuropogon sabinii , Poa [ ?] arctica , Ranunculus hyper

    boreus , Salix arctica , and S. herbacea ; but growth is almost everywhere poor.

    The only moderately luxuriant, carpeting community observed in it was a moss

    mat of Rhacomitrium uliginosum supporting a fair abundance of, most typically,

    Luzula confusa and Hierochloe alpina .

            At Wakeham Bay the rounded hills and uplands proved to be in general far

    better vegetated than at Wolstenholme, although the vegetation varies greatly

    with such factors as exposure and physicochemical make-up. Thus some spots even

    above 1,200 feet are comparable in luxuriance with lowland areas, and most of

    the plants of general occurrence in the lowlands can persist on the hills to at

    084      |      Vol_VI-0094                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    least 750 feet, above which such types as Astragalus eucosmus , Oxytropis terrae

    novae, Antennaria spp., and Vaccinium vitis-idaea var. minor are still fre–

    quently met. The flat summit of a hill, slightly over 1,000 feet in altitude,

    supported a sparsely open assemblage of mixed and mostly Far Northern species

    that totaled about 20 phanerogams and included such cryptogams as Polytrichum

    alipnum , Rhacomitrium lanuginosum , Dactylina arctica , Haematomma ventosum var.

    lapponicum , Sterocaulon alpinum , and Exobasidium vaccinii var. myrtilli (heavily

    parasitizing Cassiope tetragona ). In sheltered depressions the Rhacomitrum ,

    especially, was immediately more luxuriant, forming dense mats that sometimes

    attained a thickness of 15 centimeters and appeared remarkably retentive of

    water. Frequently Cetrariae and Cladoniae and the liverwort Chandonanthus

    setiformis grew in this mat, such a cryptogamous carpet in places paving the

    way for a rather poor Dryas or Cassiope tetragona heath in which were to be

    found such plants as Carex rupestris , Cerastium alpinum , Eutrema edwardsii,

    Luzula nivalis , Potentilla hyparctica var. elatior , Pyrola grandiflora (leaves

    only), and Salix herbacea .

            The lowlands around Wolstenholme supported many and various communities

    of which only the most noteworthy will be described. Perhaps most typical

    is the mixed heath developed on sandy and gravelly areas, which varies from a

    dwarfed and lichenous facies on raised and exposed tracts to a luxuriant one

    in sheltered depressions, where Vaccinium uliginosum var. alpinum is the usual

    dominant and Salix arctica , Carex bigelowii , Cassiope tetragona , and Vaccinium

    vitis-idaea var. minor are plentiful. Twenty-nine phanerogams were listed from

    one 5-meter quadrat, including Arctostaphylos alpina , Antennaria angustata and

    085      |      Vol_VI-0095                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    A. canescens , Luzula spicata , Oxytropis maydelliana , Pedicularis lapponica ,

    Salix cordifolia var. macounii , and Tra Taraxacum lacerum . Mosses consoli–

    dated the sward and Cladoniae and other lichens were also abundant, while

    several parasitic and other fungi occurred, including the usual Calvatia

    cretacea and Omphalia umbellifera . The soil was dark and humous but only

    very slightly acid (pH 6.6). In surrounding areas Empetrum nigrum var.

    hermaphroditum and Ledum palustre var. decumens were plentiful, and Phyllo

    doce coerulea occurred. On the other hand, in the more exposed tracts these

    additional ground shrubs are usually absent, the result being a relatively

    poor or even improperly closed, cryptogamous blueberry heath which covers

    considerable areas on the dry valley sides. Two 4-meter quadrats taken

    from different examples well inland showed Vaccinium uliginosum var. alpinum ,

    a-vad; Arctostaphylos alpina , o-acod; Carex bigelowii , a; Vaccinium vitis-idaea

    var. minor , a; Salix herbacea , f-la; Hierochloe alpina , o-la (for explanation

    of frequency degrees, see p.000). Such areas looked yellowish or straw–

    colored from a distance, due to the projecting leaves and axes of grasses,

    sedges, and Luzula confusa , or, in some places, to light-colored lichens such

    as Stereocaulon alpinum , Cetraria cucullata , and C. nivalis . In spite of the

    association of numerous other lichens and some mosses, the community frequently

    lacked proper consolidation; but, although there was only slight humous

    deposition, the reaction was distinctly acid. Several of the more important

    phanerogams were attacked by parasitic fungi which, sometimes in combination,

    appeared to do them grievous harm. Elsewhere, the valley slopes may be of

    Dryas or other barrens, and even the flats and terraces rather poorly vegetated.

    The communities are extremely variable and include a characteristic one on

    086      |      Vol_VI-0096                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    sandy areas having Luzula confusa as the only higher plant present and Poly

    trichum hyperboreum , efficiently binding the surface between the Luzula

    tussocks, as the only lower one. Figure 56 shows a pure colony of Carex

    bigelowii stabilizing the sand of a riverside flat; yet other types of

    stabilization consist of dense silvery mats of Rhacomitrium lanuginosum with

    protruding axes of Hierochloe alpina , spreading ground shrubs such as the

    usual Arctostaphylos or Empetrum , or occasionally Salix uva-ursi or Loiseleuria

    procumbens , while the sides and lower angles of snowdrift gulches may be vege–

    tated by a sward of sedges and such grasses as Calamagrostis canadensis var.

    scabra . This last may attain more than a meter in height and so exceed all

    other plants in the neighborhood.

            At Wakeham Bay the lowlands are rendered a soft, velvety green by an

    almost continuous covering of vegetation, which in most ordinary dry areas

    conforms to one of three main types: ( 1 ) a much mixed and generally Dryas -rich

    mat on relatively recent raised beaches, with prostrate willows and Carex

    rupestris and other sedges usually plentiful, Leguminosae conspicuous, and

    altogether such a wealth of angiosperms that cryptogams are little in evidence;

    ( 2 ) on older rocky areas a dryish, lichen-rich heath in which the dominants

    are often mixed, Cassiope tetragona , Ledum palustre var. decumbens , Hierochloe

    alpina , Vaccinium uliginosum var. alpinum , V. vitis-idaea var. minor , Carex

    bigelowii , and Empetrum nigrum var. hermaphroditum all likely to be important;

    ( 3 ) in sheltered depressions and on some favorable, south-facing slopes there

    may develop a tangled willow scrub dominated by Salix cordifolia var. callicar

    paea that is sometimes as much as 80 centimeters high. In addition, Calamagros

    tis canadensis var. scabra frequently forms a conspicuous sward that may grow

    even higher on sunny, well-drained, sandy or boulder protuberances. Examples

    087      |      Vol_VI-0097                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    from these four categories are seen in Figures 57 to 60. At the very head of

    Wakeham Bay the willows are said to grow “about ten feet tall, upright, with

    stems as thick as a man’s ankle.”

            The marshes encountered around Wolstenholme were of rather limited extent

    and poor development compared with those described below from Wakeham Bay,

    where Rubus chamaemorus , Salix arctophila , and Eriophorum callitrix were plen–

    tiful. The chief dominants at Wolstenholme were Arctagrostis latifolia , Carex

    aquatilis var. stans , C [ ?] . rariflora , Dupontia fisheri , Eriophorum angustifolium ,

    and E. scheuchzeri , which tended to be mixed, with the dominance poor, leaving

    space for numerous associates, which most typically comprised other species

    of Carex , Cardamine pratensis var. angustifolia , Equiseta Equiseta , Junci, and Saxifragae;

    or, more rarely, Calamagrostis neglecta var. borealis , Epilobium davuricum var.

    arcticum , and Luzula spadicea . The moss consolidation of these marshy areas

    was also rather poor, especially inland in the apparent absence of pasturage

    by wildfowl, and no extensive humous accumulation was noted.

            At Wakeham Bay the chief dominants were often the same as at Wolstenholme,

    with, in addition, Carex membranacea and Scirpus caespitosus var. callosus ;

    but the dominance tended to be stronger, although still changeable from spot

    to spot. Associates that attained some ecological importance in one or other

    of the examples investigated included Carex norvegica , C. holostoma , C. atro

    fusca , Equisetum variegatum , Eriophorum spissum , Hierochloe pauciflora , Juncus

    albescens , J. biglumis , J. castaneus , Polygonum viviparum , Rubus chamaemorus ,

    Salix arctica , Saxifraga hirculus , S. stellaris var. comosa , and Tofieldia

    . Figure 61 shows the Rubus in flower on a mossy patch of marsh and

    illustrates how extremely variable such areas may be, for within a few inches

    of where the usual sedgy-grassy dominants are holding their own we have, on

    088      |      Vol_VI-0098                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    the right, the mixed sward penetrated by jagged, uncolonized rocks. Usually

    the associated mosses number some 20 species that together form a fair mat,

    the luxuriance of which may be increased by pasturing and manuring by wildfowl.

    Sphnaga are more numerous than is usual in the North and, with Dicranum groen

    landicum and Aulacomnia, frequently assist in the formation of tussocks on

    which may grow ground shrubs and lichens. The tops of some of the higher tus–

    socks may have reaches and maintained at a heath stage, complete with Clad–

    oniae and Stereocaulon spp., whereas others may be eroded and show stages of

    retrogression right to crustaceous lichens.

            The snow effect , with the plentiful persistent snow patches even near sea

    level, is in general similar to that described above from Dorset. In view of

    the geographical proximity of the latter place, only the additional features

    noted at Wolstenholme need be described. Outside the usual Cassiope tetragona

    zone there may be a lichenous, grassy-heathy community (seen in the middle back–

    ground of Fig. 62) dependent on beneficial winter snow covering which does not,

    however, melt so late as seriously to limit the growing season. The c Cassiope

    tetragona zone is frequently wide and has abundant associated Vaccinia; in it

    may be developed open patches of Cladoniae, Ochrolechia frigida , Pertuseria

    dactylina , and Stereocaulon alpinum . Where investigated the soil in this zone

    proved to be rather meager, having a thin covering of dark humus and a dis–

    tinctly acid reaction (pH 5.6). In the Salix herbacea zone are generally asso–

    ciated Polygonum viviparum , Luzula confusa , and Pedicularis lapponica , while

    the cryptogams include Polytrichum strictum , Cetraria islandica , Stereocaulon

    spp., and both parasitic and saprophytic fungi. Inside, in the half-barren zone,

    the characteristic species include such noted snow-patch denizens as Arenaria

    sajanesis , Erigeron unalaschkensis , Oxyria digyna , Potentilla hyparctica

    089      |      Vol_VI-0099                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    f. tardinix , Ranunculus nivalis , R. pygmseus , Trisetum spicatum var. maidenii ,

    and various Saxifragae. Figure 63 shows the Ranunculi, Oxyria , and much Poa

    arctica in this zone. Bryophytes are here more in evidence than lichens,

    which may be limited to small squamules of Cetraria crispa , a few gray

    crumblers, and silt-binding knobs of Solorina crocea . Farther in, the central

    barren, moss mat, and other zones tend to be confused, characteristic species

    being Rhacomitrium sudeticum among the mosses, Gymnomitrium corallioides and

    G. concinnatum a m ong the liverworts, and Phippsia algida , Saxifraga rivularis ,

    and sometimes S. cernua or dwarfed Luzula confusa among the angiosperms. In

    these inner zones, vegetative propagation is probably unusually important.

            At Wakeham Bay there were developed in some sheltered areas with a goodly

    snow covering in winter, fine caribou-moss swards dominated by Cladonia mitis

    and C. rangiferina in the manner indicated in Figure 64; in this case the

    clayey, damp nature of the substratum is indicated by the cracks and patches

    of bare mud due to phenomena attendant on freezing and thawing, as well as

    by occasional leaves of Rubus chamaemorus . There were also at Wakeham Bay late–

    snow gulches about the lower levels of which occurred such attractive small

    herbs as Draba crassifolia , Parnassia kotzebuei , Cerastium cerastoides, and

    Anemone richardsoni .

            Special Localized Habitats and Communities . Two of these will be described.

    First, the flower slopes are developed under a peculiar combination of favorable

    factors of shelter, aspect, substratum, and good snow covering but early melting.

    The community is loosely closed and the flora large and variable, although cer–

    tain rank species that are found in such situations at Wakeham Bay and Sugluk

    are lacking at Wolstenholme, where the general luxuriance of the flower slopes

    090      |      Vol_VI-0100                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    is far less than at Lake Harbour. Nevertheless at Wolstenholme between 35

    and 40 phanerogamic species are usually to be seen in any small area, where

    Astragalus alpinus may be so abundant as probably to [ ?] improve the habitat

    appreciably through nitrogen fixation, but where usually a number of other

    more or less rank herbs are so mixed that true dominance is lacking (Fig. 65).

            The other special habitat is the series of communities developed around

    the tops of the great cliffs forming Cape Wolstenholme, on the ledges of which

    countless Brunnich’s guillemots ( Uria lomvia ) and other sea birds nest each

    year in such close formation, and with the production of so much manue and

    ultimately guano, that few plants of any sort can attain ecesis. However,

    where nests extend to near the tops of the cliffs, it can be seen that any ad–

    jacent unoccupied ledges and crannies are vegetated by luxuriant coarse grasses

    and Cochleariae, and that the rock faces are largely covered by lichens, often

    of extraordinary size. No less remarkable are the changes wrought on the cliff

    tops. Here, owing to the activity of such scavengers as glaucous gulls ( Larus

    hyperboreus ), and probably also to the foul vapors rising from the nesting

    sites, there are developed the luxuriant nitrophilous “patchwork quilt” and

    other communities of the type described some years ago from Akpatok Island

    (54, pp.174-8). The plateau nearby may be rocky and barren, as seen in Figure

    55, but even the most exposed tops above the bird cliffs are covered with a

    continuous dense sward of thickly matted “peat” and vegetation which brings

    home most forcibly the fact that a general deficiency in food salts is one of

    the chief factors inhibiting plant growth over most areas of arctic terrain.

    Figure 66 shows the dark cliff face that is inhabited each summer by such teem–

    ing bird life, and that drops sheer into the sea some 1,200 feet below. In

    the foreground is the cliff top, vegetated by a luxuriant sward of coarsely

    091      |      Vol_VI-0101                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    grown grasses just where the biotic factor is most intense. Behind stretches

    the smoother patchwork quilt of mixed and multicolored lichens and mosses

    ( see Fig. 67) that frequently exten d s 100 meters or more inland. That lichens

    in goodly rosettes, frequently as much as 20 centimeters in diameter, tend to

    form the more lightly colored elements of this patchwork is seen in Fig. 68,

    showing a small but characteristic area. Even on rock faces and projecting

    boulders, the crustaceous and other lichens are of almost unparalleled luxury–

    iance — including individual fronds of Gyrophorae up to 10 centimeters in

    diameter — and suggest a relatively rapid progression of the xerosere from

    its early stages. The grassy sward developed near the edge of the cliffs and

    in damper depressions behind, is composed mainly of Poa arctica and Alopecurus

    alpinus , with such associated forbs as Cerastium alpinum , Cochlearia officinalis

    vars., Stellaria longipes , and Saxifragae. Much the same species occurred on

    ledges towards the tops of the cliffs, and, in addition Phippsia algida and

    Oxyria digyna . Mosses rather than lichens consolidate this grassy sward, into

    which the feet may sink as much as 10 centimeters, and which is underlain by

    soft, squishy-wet, reddish-brown humus. The patchwork quilt covers most of the

    general surface immediately behind, and in it lichens, chiefly in luxuriant

    rosettes (Fig. 68) up to 22 centimeters in diameter, occupy most of the surface,

    mosses forming rather the general foundation on which they grow. Both factions

    are much mixed as regards species; on the other hand, except for Poa arctica ,

    which is generally plentiful, vascular plants are few in both species and in–

    dividuals. The chief mosses here appeared to Aulacomnium palustre and

    A. turgidum , Drepanocladus uncinatus , and three species each of Dicranum and

    Polythrichum . The chief lichens included Sphaerophorus fragilis , Thamnolia

    vermicularis , and three species each of Cetraria and Cladonia , The surface

    092      |      Vol_VI-0102                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    presents a flat or only gently undulating but pleasingly soft quilt (Fig. 67),

    into which the feet sink for about 5 centimeters; beneath lies a considerable

    depth of damp, reddish-brown, humous soil [ ?] -- except where it thins out behind,

    as the biotic influence lessens. About the cliff tops even the most exposed

    rock faces were clothed with crustaceous and other lichens of unusual luxur–

    iance, including species not found elsewhere in the region.

            Freshwater communities observed at Wolstenholme include some rather pale,

    thin, pinkish snow in which the only organism that could be identified in sur–

    face samples was the usual red-snow alga, Sphaerella nivalis . Stream beds, al–

    though often of uncertain duration and largely barren where rocky, are in some

    places clothed with dark mosses, or, in one instance, colonized only by little

    tussocks of Andreaea hartmanni . These occurred alike in areas flooded or dry

    in late August, the earthen banks above colonized by Cephalozia fluitans

    and Peltigera scabrosa . Some sterile filaments of a Zygnema were to be found

    in shallow eddies, in which numerous smaller algae occurred. Thus in one small

    sample taken from the bed of a stream when it had almost dried up in late

    August, 32 different species of Diatomeae were identified, and from a similar

    habitat at Cape Smith, not far to the south, 16 algae belonging to other groups.

    The margins of lakes in the uplands were often rocky and largely barren (Fig. 55),

    although in a few places some semiaquatic specimens of Ranunculus hyperboreus

    and Pleuropogon sabinii (with floating leaves) were seen. In the lowlands only

    a few small and evidently somewhat ephemeral pools were encountered, again some–

    times containing Ranunculus hyperboreus . Their shallow or dried-up margins

    were liable to be colonized by seedlings of Phippsia algida and Koenigia islandica ,

    or, more extensively, by Carex aquatilis var. stans , Eriophorum angustifolium , or

    E. scheuchzeri , extending out from the poor marginal marshes. The bed supported

    093      |      Vol_VI-0103                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    a few small algae such as Closterium striolatum , Pediastrum boryanum and its

    var. longicorne , Scenedesmus quadricaudus , and Tolypothrix distorta var.

    penicillata .

            At Wakeham Bay, freshwater habitats are numerous and variable. Thus the

    bouldery beds of shallow streams tend to be well clothed with such mosses as

    Philonotis fontana and Drepanocladus spp., and also support numerous algae

    of various affinities, including in one instance at least two species of

    Microspora ( M. stagnorum and M. willeana ). In sluggish eddies there are some–

    times to be found Ranunculus trichophyllus var. eradicatus and R. hyperboreus ,

    although both of these are more characteristic of standing water. From two

    phials of brownish deposit accumulating below where water seeped from late–

    melting snow patches, 30 different species of algae were identified, exclusive

    of Diatomeae. Although the samples were taken on consecutive say days and the

    snow patches were not far apart, only 5 species were common to the two. The

    aquatic and marginal communities of a large lake proved extremely variable.

    Where the margin was of boulders, these supported only a scum of algae in some

    places, although in others there could be seen, extending out to a considerable

    depth, fine beds of dark-brown aquatic mosses or glistening white axes of

    Ranunculus trichophyllus var. eradicatus . Where the bottom was of mud it was

    apt to be colonized to a depth of at least 40 centimeters by large, coarse

    plants of Eriophorum angustifolium or Carex aquatilis var. stans . The slimy

    scum on the axes of these colonists was made up of diverse and interesting

    algae. Deposits on mud at the edge of the water included more than 50 species

    of algae (exclusive of Diatomeae), and altogether the freshwater algal flora

    of the region must be enormous. Besides the Eriophorum and Carex mentioned

    above, E. scheuchzeri , Phippsia algida , and Carex chordorrhiza were frequent

    colonists of damp lakeside mud.

    094      |      Vol_VI-0104                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            The seashore habitats at Wolstenholme include sandy or shingly banks

    above the drift line that, as in most other places in Hudson Bay and Hudson

    Strait, are often bound by dense beds of Elymus arenarius var. villosus (here

    approaching var. villosissimus ), or sometimes by prostrate Arenaria peploides

    var. diffusa and Mertensia maritima var. tenella . Away from the immediate

    influence of sale water, the associated plants become more and more numerous,

    the first to be met including such hardy species as Arabis arenicola , Armeria

    labradorica , Astragalus alpinus , Carex maritima , Cerastium alpinum , Draba

    nivalis , Festuca brachyphylla , Papaver radicatum , Poa arctica , P. glauca ,

    Sagina intermedia , Saxifraga caespitosa , and Silene acaulis var. exscapa.

    The most characteristic cryptogams appear to be Rhacomitrium canescens and

    Stereocaulon alpinum , both of which exert a useful binding influence on the

    sand. A brackish marsh behind a sheltering bar near the mouth of a stream

    was dominated by the usual Puccinellia phryganodes , with associated Carex

    glareosa var. amphigena , C. ursina , Chrysanthemum arcticum , Cochlearia office

    inalis var. groenlandica , Koenigia islandica , Puccinellia paupercula , and

    Stellaria humifusa . Although most of the between-tide range is occupied by

    barren sands or smooth rock faces, broken rocks or beds of boulders are found

    in many places around low tidemark; these are well vegetated by Fucus vesi

    culosus and an abundance of other algae representing all the main groups and

    including, chiefly in pools and below low tidemark, large Alaria and Laminaria


            At Wakeham Bay the shingle above high tidemark is similarly colonized by

    the usual Arenaria , Mertensia , and Elymus , of which the last forms luxuriant

    beds (Fig. 69). Various plants are associated, including Carex maritima , Coch

    learia officinalis var. oblongifolia , Festuca rubra var. arenaria , Matricaria

    095      |      Vol_VI-0105                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    inodora var. nana , Poa glauca , and Puccinellia angustata , or in damp saline de–

    pressions[?], a whole salt-marsh contingent dominated by Puccinellia phryganodes

    or forms of Carex salina , and including C. glareosa var. amphigena , Cochlearia

    var. groenlandica , various phases of Dupontia fisheri , Koenigia

    , Montia lamprosperma , Puccinellia paupercula , Stellaria crassifolia ,

    S. humifusa , and the familiar alga Ulothrix flacca . Higher up, apparently away

    from the influence of marked salinity, luxuriant clumps of Poa glauca (Fig. 69 ( )

    may prevail. Between tidemarks the boulder-strewn shore is dark with algae,

    chiefly Fucus vesiculosus (whose growth is fairly luxuriant except toward the

    uppermost limits) and, in pools, much Pylaiella littoralis and Ulothrix flacca ,

    with sometimes a little Petrocelis cruenta . The darkening by algae is very

    noticeable in Figure 69, although the tops of rocks and boulders are largely

    scoured of macroscopic growth by the action of ice which may persist through–

    out the summer.


    Islands in Hudson and Ungava Bays

            These comprise Southampton (with White), Coats, Salisbury, Nottingham,

    and Mansel Islands in the north of Hudson Bay and Akpatok Island in Ungava Bay,

    but for our present purpose exclude such smaller unites as Marble, Igloolik,

    Vansittart, Digges, Big, and Killinek Islands, which are considered with the

    adjacent mainland regions to which they seem more properly to belong. In size

    the islands range downward from Southampton Island, which has an area of approx–

    imately 20,000 square miles (cf. 35, p.232). Although the coast lines tend to

    be rather even in outline and the surfaces smoothed by glacial action, the

    islands have many physiographic variations. Thus, whereas Akpatok Island is

    almost surrounded by tall, sheer cliffs and consists largely of plateau undulat–

    ing around an altitude of about 700 feet (cf. 48), and Sali / bury and Nottingham

    096      |      Vol_VI-0106                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    Islands being granitic a and gneissic so far as is known, and Coats and Mansel

    Islands being again largely of limestone, although the former has not a little

    acidic rock toward its northern end. The south w estern two-thirds of Southampton

    Island are predominantly low and of limestone, and the rest, including most of

    the northeastern coast and White Island, is of higher and more rugged, dark

    gneissic country (35; 39 38).

            As regards climate, Akpatok Island is very exposed, often cool and foggy

    in summer (cf. 48), with the humidity frequently as high as 90% for considerable

    periods, and little difference in day and night temperatures in spite of the

    relatively low latitude. Nottingham Island appears to be somewhat warmer,

    though still with only a single month lacking frost, and Coral Harbour on

    Southampton Island yet more favorable, with temperatures sometimes exceeding

    70°F. and considerable summer rainfall, although it is more continental in type,

    with a more severe winter.

            Of Akpatok Island the flora (45; 47) and vegetation (53; 54) have been

    treated in some detail, with numerous illustrations. In the absence of proper

    control of the surface by plants, the vegetation was considered rather in terms

    of habitats, of which twelve main types (or in some cases special communities

    which stood out as characterizing their area) were recognized as between them

    [ ?]occupying virtually the whole of the terrain: (1) hilltops, rising to a

    maximum of 930 feet (283 m.) and supporting only a very few plants in sparsely

    open formation, such as Dryas integrifolia , Salix arctica , or Draba alpina var.

    nana, where there is a modicum of comminuted material, but often only crus–

    taceous lichens where the surface is covered with jagged limestone particles;

    ( 2 ) plateau of limestone polygon, fjellmark (frost-shattered particles of all

    sizes, including some finer soil), or other surfaces which between them cover

    097      |      Vol_VI-0107                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    most of the island, the vegetation being less depauperate, but still a sparse

    barren in most places, including such open-soil calcicolous and other species

    as Arenaria rossii , Carex misandra , Dryas integrifolia , Salix arctica and

    S. calcicola , Saxifraga aizoides , S. oppositifolia , and the like, which

    usually grow best on the intervening tracts between the dynamic polygon sur–

    faces, and are there often consolidated by cryptogams; ( 3 ) screes and other

    slopes are numerous and variable, the chief binders of the frequently unstable

    surfaces being patches of Dryas , Salix spp., Cerastium alpinum , or Saxifraga

    oppositifolia ; ( 4 ) ravines, with usually barren beds but variable and some–

    times well-vegetated banks; ( 5 ) valley sides, which with favorable shelter

    and soil conditions are often darkened by heathy or grassy vegetation dominated

    by Dryas or Cassiope tetragona with numerous, well-grown associates; ( 6 ) valley

    heads and depressions which are often mars h y and occupied by closed communities

    dominated by Carices (especially Carex membranacea ), Arctagrostis latifolia ,

    Eriophorum angustifolium , or E. scheuchzeri ; ( 7 ) the snow effect was well

    marked, with a series of as many as six subclimax zones developed in relation

    to deep drifting and late melting, including a Cassiope heath, a Salix herbacea

    mat, an herb barren, and a limited moss mat, as well as a remarkable herb

    tangle in “swallow holes,” ( 8 ) erratic boulders of acidic rock, which are

    usually much more luxuriantly vegetated by various successional stages of

    lichens and mosses, or sometimes phanerogams, than the general limestone;

    ( 9 ) special localized communities that were closed but variable, being vegetated

    by forbs, grasses, or heaths (including Empetrum , Rhododendron , and Vaccinium

    uliginosum var. alpinum ), or comprising moss mats or marshy hillock-tundra

    areas; ( 10 ) special localized habitats including, first, acidic morainic ac–

    cumulations which are usually well clothed with vegetation, and second, the

    098      |      Vol_VI-0108                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    environs of bird cliffs that support thickly matted, grassy or cryptogamous

    communities of the type described from Cape Wolstenholme; ( 11 ) freshwater

    habitats such as streams and tarns which were variable and usually rather

    barren, although with numerous filamentous and other algae, Pleuropogon

    sabinii , and Ranunculus hyperboreus among the functional aquatics, and Carices

    and Eriophora Eriophora extending out as they colonized shallow water; ( 12 ) marine

    habitats, including a tidal lagoon the stony bed of which was clothed by

    diminutive algae, exposed shores and cliffs which are often remarkably barren

    (Fig. 70), and between-tide rocks which are largely scoured of macroscopic

    algae by ice. However, the plankton may be relatively abundant in late sum–

    mer and the benthos was extremely luxuriant, including specimens of Laminaria

    longicruris up to 47 feet in length and beset with epiphytes belonging to five

    different rhodophycean genera.

            Mill, Nottingham, and Salisbury Islands are little known vegetationally.

    The first is said by Smith (65, p.55) to be “of massive igneous rocks rising

    abruptly from the sea. These are worn by ice action and beyond a few grassy

    valleys are practically devoid of vegetation,” while on Salisbury Island the

    vegetation “is more prolific than on Mill Island, both grass and moss occurring

    in the valleys” (65, p.56). From Salisbury and Nottingham Islands, fairly

    numerous vascular plants are now known, and on the former “the indications are

    that the soil in places is relatively rich, the growth of some plants being

    quite luxuriant in spite of the exposed situation” (49, p.10).

            [ ?]Coats and Mansel Islands were set aside “for the purpose of providing

    grazing grounds for reindeer and musk-oxen” (9, p.25) and would seem in the

    former instance to be fairly well vegetated and on the whole comparable with

    adjacent parts of Southampton Island (see below), with a fair darkening by

    099      |      Vol_VI-0109                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    vegetation of the acidic terrain of the north, and luxuriant marshes in the

    low limestone country of the south. On much of Mansel Island the vegetation

    is, however, very poor (cf. 2, p.33DD; 53). According to D. Leechman and

    T. H. Man n ing ( voce ) this island is entirely of limestone and quite low;

    near the sea are found ridge upon ridge of low banks of limestone shingle,

    the raised areas being almost entirely barren and the depressions often not

    much colonized, although occasionally supporting strips of heathy or marshy

    vegetation. Pools are numerous and tend to be surrounded by a continuous

    sedgy-grassy community, but even this is usually of small extent. Inland

    the country at the north end is low and flat and covered with limestone detri [ ?]

    tus supporting little except occasional close pulvini or small dark mats of

    Dryas integrifolia or Saxifraga oppositifolia . Only the marshy depressions

    are at all extensively covered with vegetation; they are generally dominated

    by Carices, Eriophora, and Arctagrostis latifolia — all of rather poor growth

    and liable to interruption by hillock tundra. It is said that in the central

    region there are larger tracts of vegetation capable of supporting caribou.

            Southampton Island is relatively well known, and details of the main plant

    communities occurring in one district will be given below. Of the northern

    part, particularly around York Bay, Parry writes (40, pp.39-41) “In the fis–

    sures and hollows between the rocks, the moss, sorrel, ground willow, and a

    few other plants were abundant … this land, which rises gradually from the

    beach … was full of ponds of fresh water, and in almost all the intermediate

    parts there was abundance of fine vegetation, consisting of grass, moss, and

    various other plants,” while on the northern part of White Island, Mathiassen

    reports (38, p.26) “the usual poor mountain heath … of lichens and mosses,

    interspersed with herbs and dwarf bus h es such as Salix , Vaccinium uliginosum ...

    100      |      Vol_VI-0110                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    Empetrum , Cassiope tetragona , Saxifraga species species Papaver , Pedicularis , Dryas ,

    Oxyria Oxyria … grasses and Cyperaceae, the latter mostly in moist places.” In a

    more general vein, Comer (11, p.86) remarks that “The low lands produce an

    abundance of grass, waving in the winds like the wheat-fields of the temperate

    zone”, but Mathiassen implies that on the limestone, Dryas or Saxifraga opposite

    folia barrens of one sort or another cover a large part of the total area, with

    associated Salix and other species, and that the interior in parts “has almost

    the character of a desert, without any vegetation at all or only very little —

    a few small tufts of Dryas which have been able to take root in the crevices.”

    On the other hand, “In the large flat and partly swampy areas in the interior,

    such [ ?] as around Cleveland River, the vegetation is more marked, with many

    grasses … cyperaceae … and Salix species; along the banks of Cleveland

    River I often saw a narrow belt of knee-high willow thicket” (38, p.25). Of

    the low-lying country near the west coast in the south, Low reports (27, pp.33-34)

    that “The land behind rises in a succession of ridges each a few feet higher

    than the one immediately in front. The ridges are formed of broken limestone,

    evidently the surface portion of underlying ledges. Very little vegetation grows

    on the ridges, but in the wide depressions between them there is a profusion of

    grasses and other Arctic plants on the wet ground surrounding the many ponds

    and lakes found there.” It was apparently off this coast that Lyon (30, p.115)

    “passed a great quantity of tangle-weed … The stalk of one piece which we

    measured, was eighteen feet in length, and the leaf, although a portion had been

    torn from its point, twelve feet six inches, making a total of thirty feet six

    inches.” Col. P. D. Baird has reported ( voce ) on the Bay of Gods Mercy region

    in the southwest, where in places the terrain consists mainly of a “series of

    raised beaches with marshy depressions” in which the vegetation may be closed.

    101      |      Vol_VI-0111                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    Inland are more gravelly ridges and large areas of polygons and up-ended [ ?]

    splinters. Dryas is often the chief plant, with some Carex misandra and

    Salices. On the most exposed ridges Saxifraga oppositifolia may be the only

    flowering plant, but in more favorable places (where there is sometimes a

    lossely closed Dryas heath), Pedicularis lanata and Saxifraga tricuspidata

    are usually associated. Much the same conditions and vegetation persist

    around Cape Low in the extreme south of the island. The some observer has

    reported on the small, rocky Walrus Island that lies near the middle of Fisher

    Strait, which separates Southampton Island from Coats Island. In depressions

    in the rock surface are patches of rather damp soil supporting closed vegeta–

    tion which is either heathy, dominated by Empetrum, or marshy, with dry

    tussocks characteristically bearing Rubus chamaemorus .

            Revisitation of Coral Harbour near the head of South Bay in 1946 enabled

    the writer, during a trek inland and flights over various other parts of

    Southampton Island, to fill in some gaps, such as the extreme southeastern

    portion, which is of light-colored limestone that contrasts markedly with the

    dark hills to the north. The surface of this flat limestone country seems

    from the air to be varied more by rather numerous shallow lakes than by any

    real show of vegetation, which, over some considerably tracts, appeared from

    altitudes of around 4,000 feet to be virtually absent, though more often

    between one-quarter and one-half of the total area was intermittently bound

    by contrastingly dark growth that in some pl a ces looked almost continous. These

    most favored tracts were usually in sheltered depressions, and consisted ap–

    parently of heathy or marshy communities, according to local water conditions.

    Li The surface materials of the limestone plains appeared to be all loose and

    comminuted, frost-shattered to comparatively small sizes. Light-colored

    102      |      Vol_VI-0112                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    polygons showed up in places, especially near lakes, which themselves were

    relatively dark and apparently well vegetated, particularly around their margins.

    Some of these lake margins, which from the air in August looked greenish with

    algae, showed long solifluction streaks that even extended down into the water,

    well beneath its current level. The limestone country as a whole appeared

    from the air to be abundantly dissected and streaked, with beach lines and

    ridges rising inland as steps — sometimes lying parallel with one another for

    considerable distances, but more often without evident order or regular direc–

    tion. Further dissecting influences were steams and dried-up watercourses.

            Around Coral Harbour post the rocks are darker and acidic, with lakes

    more numerous and vegetation almost continuous over considerable tracts, but

    to the west, again, the country is largely of limestone, being low and only

    sparsely vegetated. Indeed the light-colored plains about the mouth of Kirchof–

    fer River looked desert-like in their undulating monotony. But where the bed–

    rock was darker and acidic there was evidently more luxuriant vegetation,

    which often appeared almost continuous over considerable areas, except on

    gray rocky outcrops that looked scoured and largely barren. Where the terrain

    was sandy or of more stable limestone, which had been longer out of the sea

    than that near the coast, the country was about half covered with patches of

    more or less continuous higher vegetation. Still farther inland, to the west,

    the rocks appeared largely acidic and the vegetation almost contin u ous — mostly

    of various sa shades of brown or yellow-b or ro wn, interrupted by shallow lakes

    that were rarely large. Then again farther west there was a change to more bar–

    ren limestone, though even on this the patches of darker vegetation were some–

    times confluent over considerable areas of low-lying marshy plains. Much of

    the country to the north of Coral Harbour is again tolerably well vegetated,

    103      |      Vol_VI-0113                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    though rarely without some light-colored barren tracts or poorly colonized

    rock. Lakes are numerous and not always small. But about the hig h er, exposed

    north coast, persistent snow patches were numerous even at the end of August

    in 1946, and relative barrenness prevailed. Hereabouts the sea rarely if

    ever becomes entirely free from ice. At best the gray and rocky hills had

    a yellowish-brown mellowing of vegetation. In places the streams have cut

    deep and narrow gorges; but the occasional sandy flats in the more open val–

    leys looked greenish yellow with vegetation. This became more noticeable

    as one flew south again, the and country gradually became lower and smoother —

    the stream beds shallower and the hills less steep and rocky.

            Inland of Coral Harbour airfield, around the main southern tributary of

    Kirchoffer River, the country proved fairly well vegetated, with extensive

    marshes and more limited heaths. Scattered and individually spreading shrubs

    of Betula glandulosa var. sibirica were found in several places, as were larger

    ones of Salix alaxensis and S. richardsoni var. mckeandii, but although the

    willows, especially, often grew in such close proximity (Fig. 71) that from

    afar the covering looked complete, no extensive consolidated scrub was encoun–

    tered. In sheltered valleys, especially by streams, the willows formed domed

    bushes up to a meter high and 4 meters in diameter, with prostrate axes some–

    times exceeding 10 centimeters in thickness. Hereabouts the plains frequently

    supported a continuous investment of mixed heathy vegetation (which was apt to

    be especially luxuriant on any broken slope — see Fig. 52); the flora of

    the river valleys, though far inland, included some typical seaside plants

    (Fig. 73), and there were found several angiosperms not previously known to

    occur on Southampton Island (42).

    104      |      Vol_VI-0114                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            P Phytoplanktonic observations were made off the east coast of Akpatok

    Island in 1931 by Polunin (54, pp.189-91), who collected by horizontal towings

    at various depths and vertical hauls through about 31 meters (a depth of the

    order of the deepest soundings recorded). According to N. I. Hendey the sam–

    ples all “present the appearance of a rich and typically pelagic diatom flora,

    while associated are various Dinoflagellata, with Ceratium arcticum very fre–

    quently.” There was some suggestion that discoid forms and some species of

    Chaetoceros were less abundant at the lower levels investigated. Three species

    of Parafavella were determined, and over 40 diatoms, of which Chaetoceros

    debilis , Thalassiosira nordenskioldii , C. socialis , T. subtilis , C. atlanticus ,

    and Fragilaria islandica were the six most abundant (in the order named).

            In Hudson Bay, phytopanktonic samples from surface hauls have been in–

    vestigated for diatoms by Davidson (cf. 12), who found only 18 species (16 of

    them occurring north of the 60th parallel), remarking that quantitatively the

    “genus Chaetoceros comprised well over ninety-five per cent. of the material,”

    two species, C. compressus and C. laciniosus , being “dominant in all but two

    stations” (12, p.497); Nitzschia was represented by three species, Rhizosolenia

    by four (one occurring only to the south of latitude 60° N.), Thalassiosira

    by two (one occurring only south of latitude 60° N.) and Thalassiothrix ,

    Coscinosira , and Coscinodiscus by one species each.

            As our main example for more detailed treatment we will take the environs

    of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s trading post situated in latitude 64°08′ N. and

    longitude 83°10′ W. near the mouth of Coral Harbour which terminates the great

    “South Bay” in Southampton Island. The terrain is flat and monotonous (Fig. 74),

    relieved chiefly by numerous lakes and low rocky ridges formed principally of

    105      |      Vol_VI-0115                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    gneiss but covered in most places by coarse, rewashed glacial material and

    fine marine clays. These deposits tend to be calcareous, with a considerable

    admixture of limestone particles and marine shells. It is an exposed and al–

    most perpetually windy place with a sever climate, though the summer may be

    sufficiently favorable to allow radishes to attain a useful size even with–

    out glass, and lettuce to grow to a height of 7 centimeters.

            Raised areas are of two main kinds: first, the rocky ridges and pro–

    tuberances of gneiss that lieonly a few dozen feet above sea level or the

    surrounding land, and, being smoothed by glacial or wave action, support

    little save cryptogams — except in crevices or sheltered depressions, where

    the communities may be indistinguishable from those of the general plains

    (Fig. 75). The chief cryptogams are crustaceous and foliose lichens (es–

    pecially numerous species of Lecidea , Lecanora , and Parmelia ) which may

    darken the surface (Fig. 74 ) in the foreground), and the moss Rhacomitrium

    lanuginosum, which may form luxuriant silvery tussocks (Fig. 76) or even mats

    where it can take hold.

            The other type of raised area to be distinguished is the low limestone

    plateau a few miles inland. Its surface is of loose material, including many

    marine shells, and on the whole is much like other limestone surfaces on

    Southampton Island both to the southeast and southwest. The vegetation is

    in many ways reminiscent of that of the higher and more exposed limestone

    plateau of Akpatok Island (cf. 53, pp.352-67 and plates), being sometimes of

    rough, frost-shattered Dryas or Saxifraga oppositifolia barrens, containing

    only a few diminutive phanerog [ ?] a mic associates and comparatively few cryptogams;

    but often it is of barren polygons separated by rather well-vegetated inter–

    vening tracts (Fig. 77), the sorting of the material and differentiating of

    106      |      Vol_VI-0116                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    the areas being due to frost action (cf. 53). The polygons typically cover

    rather more than half the total area and have centers that are very slightly

    domed and mostly of finely comminuted material, except for small stones that

    generally compose the surface at least toward the periphery. This polygon

    surface is usually barren, but may support scattered and usually nonflowering

    depauperate individuals of Braya purpurascens , Carex nardina , Dschampsia brevifolia ,

    Draba alpina var. nana and D. subcapitata , Polygonum viviparum , Puccinellia

    vahliana , Saxifraga aizoides , and S. oppositifolia . Individual polygons, which

    average about 1 1/2 meters in diam e ter, may be devoid of even a single seedling

    of a higher plant; cryptogams also are usually absent from the clayey center,

    but a close search of the larger limestone particles toward the periphery will

    generally reveal a few very small crustaceous lichens or greenish algal invest–

    ments. The intervening tracts are variable in width but may average some 40

    centimeters, and, although including most of the larger stones of the surface,

    they are usually vegetated by a closed mat of higher plants and thus form a [ ?]

    continuous though patchy-looking network. Dryas integrifolia is the most plen–

    tiful plant, forming domed tussocks often 20 centimeters high with a core of

    dark-brown humus, but in the best places calcicolous Salices predominate, form–

    ing small gnarled bushlets up to 30 centimeters high. These may again be

    overtopped by occasional axes of Carex misandra , which reach nearly 40 centi–

    meters in height. Other plants that tend to be frequent in the mat are

    Polygonum viviparum , Carex nardina , C. scirpoidea , C. rupestris , and Kobresia

    simpliciuscula --, the last two frequently parasitized by Cintractia caricis .

    Cryptogams are not much in evidence, though a number of Cetrariae (espec–

    ially Cetraria nivalis , in accordance with the poor snow covering) and

    other lichens occur, and mosses of tussocky growth, which contribute to the

    107      |      Vol_VI-0117                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    more closely matted strips of higher vegetation, and so insulate the gravelly

    soil that beneath the surface it is generally quite damp. As usual in arctic

    terrain the vegetation as a whole is, however, variable from place to place,

    even the intervening tracts in some polygoniferous areas [ ?] being poorly vege–

    tated, while in other areas polygons are lacking and the vegetation may vary

    from almost closed to almost nil.

            The general plains cover most of the area, and even on the gneiss their

    communities are far more variable from place to place than their flat terrain

    would lead one to expect. The vegetation types fall into two main series,

    of which the first is a marshy tundra which will be described later, and the

    second is heathy and more or less lichenous. Dryas is usually on the chief

    plant here, with or without associated (or sometimes locally dominant) Arto

    staphylos rubra , Cassiope tetragona , Empetrum nigrum var. hermaphroditum ,

    Ledum palustre var. decumbens , Rhododendron lapponicum , Salices, Vaccinium

    uliginosum var. alpinum , and V. vitis-idaea var. minor . In sheltered depres–

    sions the Dryas leaves were often four or five times as broad as in exposed

    places. More or less plentiful herbs in such situations included [ ?] Carices,

    Poa arctica , Saxifraga tricuspidata , and as many as 3 species of Oxytropis ,

    no less than 34 species of Phanerogamia being listed in one small and rather

    poorly vegetated area. Rhacomitrium lanuginosum is often the chief cryptogam,

    forming luxuriant mats spreading out over rock faces and constituting a

    rapidly advancing stage in the xerosere, but in the same small area at least

    7 other bryophytes and 23 lichens appeared to be more or less important.

    Projecting rocks accounted for some of these lichens, as well as for a host

    of additional small Lecideae and other crustaceous forms. The soil was dark

    [ ?] brown and humous to a depth of 3 to 10 centimeters, but, being admixed

    108      |      Vol_VI-0118                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    with transported calcareous particles, was neutral to slightly basic in reac–

    tion. Figure 78, taken well inland, shows a mixed heathy area that is dom–

    inated locally in the foreground by prostrate Betula glandulosa var. sibirica ;

    in a damp depression in the center is a dark moss mat surrounded by typical

    mossy hillocks. An herb-rich facies is seen in Figure 79, where Carex rupes

    tris obscures the Dryas , and Oxytropis maydelliana and Salix reticulata are

    associated. Still more sedgy-grassy in nature are extensive, relatively favor–

    able areas inland that approached in type the drier facies of marsh (see p.000)

    or may occasionally be disturbed by giant tundra polygons where intervening

    depressions support busy Salix alaxensis or S. richardsoni var. mckeandii .

    Such a disturbed area is seen in Figure 80 in which hillock-tundra tussocks

    further invest the surface; these polygons averaged about 15 meters in diameter

    and appeared to be largely composed of dark humus. They supported a swarded or

    tussocky community of dwarf Salices and other ground shrubs (including Dryas ),

    grasses, and sedges — all being much mixed and variable from place to place,

    and bound by mosses that occasionally included Sphagna.

            On limestone terrain the vegetation is widely different. Thus in the

    vicinity of the airfield west of Coral Harbour the ground is smooth, with a

    limestone surface that is gently undulating, porous, and usually arid (Fig. 81).

    Much of this semidesert of frost-shattered particles ranging from gravel size

    upward is devoid of higher or even any evident vegetation, but usually a few

    depauperate Saxifragae, Drabae, or Arenariae, or tufts of Dryas or Papaver are

    to be found, with xeromorphic Carices or prostrate Salices where slight shelter

    allows. On the most exposed barrens the chief and sometimes the only plant to

    be seen is Saxifraga oppositifolia Saxifraga oppositifolia , growing in sparsely scattered tussocks

    usually 5 to 15 centimeters in diameter, the associates being typically Lychnis

    109      |      Vol_VI-0119                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    apetala , Cerastium alpinum , Braya purpurascens , Papaver radicatum , Draba

    alpina var. nana , and Arenaria rubella . A close search over many square

    meters will frequently reveal little more in the way of plant growth, the

    cryptogams being few and even the dominant Saxifraga little in evidence

    among the jagged limestone splinters with rough eroded surfaces. The oc–

    casional erratic boulders or even small stones are, however, almost always

    better vegetated with crustaceous lichens. The slightest change to a more

    sheltered situation tends to be accompanied by a larger flora, including

    such lichens as Cetraria nivalis , C. cucullata , and C. islandica s.l. —

    with usually some Dryas , the whole passing with improved conditions to a

    Dryas barren or even closed heath. The associates here include Carex misan

    dra, C. rupestris , C. scirpoidea , Salix arctica , Kobresia simpliciuscula ,

    Polygonum viviparum , and sometimes a little Cassiope tetragona . The Dryas

    forms tussocks of varying size up to half a meter in diameter, which tend

    to be larger toward the bottoms of banks or depressions, and harbor or

    actually support most of the associated angiosperms and relatively luxuriant

    and exacting cryptogams. In more favorable and sheltered depressions,

    Cassiope forms a fair heath, sometimes with associated Arctostaphylos , Rho

    dodendron , Lycopodium selago , Salix herbacea , S. reticulata , and others. In

    still more favored, damp depressions and lakeside habitats there grow con–

    trastingly luxuriant bushy willows and fine beds of Eriophora and Carices,

    often extending far out into shallow water. The more important dominants

    and characteristic associates in these marshes on the limestone include

    Arctagrostis latifolia , Carex aquatilis var. stans , C. atrofusca, C. bicolor ,

    C. membranacea , Chrysanthemum integrifolium , Deschampsia brevifolia , Epilo

    bium davuricum var. arcticum , Equisetum variegatum , Eriophorum an g tustifolium ,

    110      |      Vol_VI-0120                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    Juncus albescens , J. biglumis , Saxifraga aizoides , S. hirculus , and Senecio

    congestus var. palustris . In Figure 82 is shown such a limestone area as

    is frequently encountered not many miles in from the coast; it consists

    of intermittent marshy tracts or smaller clumps of Eriophora and Carex aquatilis

    var. stans , interspersed by patches of almost barren though damp gravel. Such

    vegetation looks unstable and the area young, as if it had only recently

    emerged from the sea.

            Marshes occupy much of the low-lying country and may be continuous over

    considerable areas, whether the substratum be gneissic or of limestone, al–

    though more often they are subject to interruption by rocky ridges, gravelly

    banks, or [ ?]merely drier areas that can still be described as marshy. Such

    areas when lying well inland tend to be vegetated by a luxuriant sedgy-grassy

    sward (see p.000). A less well-grown example near the sea supported 35 dif–

    ferent entities of vascular plants in a small area, of which no less than 9

    reached a frequency degree as high as la, as follows: Carex c f. aquatilis

    var. stans x bigelowii , vad; Salix cf. calcicola x richardsoni var. mckeandii ,

    f-lad; Arctagrostis latifolia , a; Hierochloe pauciflora , o-a; Salix arctica ,

    xx o-a; Alopecurus alpinus , la; Carex membranacea , la; Eriophorum angusti

    folium , la; Salix reticulate , la. Various other associates and even dominants

    occur in other places, the composition f varying from spot to spot. In this

    instance the chief Salix formed bushes up to 30 centimeters high and spreading

    laterally to attain a diameter of as much as 1 1/2 meters, although no proper

    scrub was found, and indeed the grasses and sedges often overtopped the willows.

    Such an area, with busy willows particularly prominent but still remaining

    dwarf, is seen in Figure 83. Frequently the surface is somewhat hummocky

    111      |      Vol_VI-0121                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    (Fig. 84), with tops introducing a drier, heathy facies including lichens,

    though mosses such as Drepanocladus badius usually cover the surface between

    the dominant vascular plants, which alone among themselves almost occupy the

    area. Below this covering there may lie about 10 centimeters of dark and

    wet, humous soil including mineral grits — some of which are apt to effervesce

    with hydrochloric acid (HCL), the reaction being neutral. In one small area

    listed, 8 species of mosses, 7 of lichens, and 3 of parasitic fungi were par–

    ticularly p el le ntiful. The more swampy lakeside marshes of the type seen in

    Figure 87 are usually less mixed, as are such young areas of damp limestone

    gravel as that shown in Figure 82; the former type is usually well dominated

    by such hygrophytes as Eriophorum angustifolium , Carex aquatilis , and Arcta

    grostis latifolia , and the latter usually as Eri o phorum angustifolium , Carex

    aquatilis , and Arctagrostis latifolia , and the latter usually has Eriophorum

    scheuchzeri plentiful and conspicuous.

            The snow effect , owing to the general flatness of the country, is less

    marked and less frequently expressed in the vicinity of Coral Harbour than in

    most other parts of our area. Nevertheless, there are two types of community

    that appear to be maintained only in relation to drifted and rather late–

    melting snow. The first is developed on the bouldery sides of occasional

    morainic or rocky ridges such as are shown in Figures 84 and 85, where a great

    drift of snow collects each winter and melts only well on in the summer (in

    its center sometimes not at all in a cool summer), so that the growing season

    is too short at least for the usual dominants, and even rapidly maturing

    colonists are to be seen still in flower as late as the end of August. These

    include Antennaria angustata , Arenaria sajanensis , Astragalus alpinus ,

    Sardamine bellidifolia , Cassiope tetragona , Cerastium alpinum , Draba

    112      |      Vol_VI-0122                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    fladnizensis s.l., D. fernaldiana , Eutn e ma edwardsii , Oxyria digyna , Oxytropis

    maydelliana , Papaver radicatum , Pedicularis capitata , P. lanata , Poa alpina ,

    Potentilla hyparctica , Ranunculus pygmaeus , Saxifraga cernua , S. tricuspidata ,

    Stellaria longipes , and Trisetum spicatum var. maidenii . In a few places

    where the snow lasts longest of all, even Salix herbacea and Saxifraga oppositi

    folia may be seen still in flower near its receding margin — even toward the

    very end of summer in the center of such patches where Phippsia algida may be

    the chief phanerogam.

            Earlier-melting areas surrounding the latest snow patches, and many exten–

    [ ?] sive depressions and banks which are left bare at a similar time each sum–

    mer, tend to be vegetated by dark Cassiope tetragona heath whatever the sub–

    stratum may be (Fig. 85). A 4-meter quadrat in this zone had the Cassiope , vad,

    Salix reticulata , f-a, Dryas integrifolia (including f. intermedia ), la, Salix

    herbacea, la, and 24 other species of vascular plants of which several were,

    however, apparently mere casuals. This was to be expected in view of the usual

    strong dominance by the Cassiope , which often covered about three-quarters of

    the area and grew 10 to 12 centimeters high, while other phanerogams occupied

    most of the spaces between its tussocks. Nevertheless some 9 bryophytes and

    10 lichens were important cryptogamic “fillers.” The soil was dark brown and

    humous to a depth of 5 to 10 centimeters, and the pH was 7.2 in the quadrat,

    although none of the grits or silt tested would effervesce with hydrochloric

    aid (HCL) in the cold.

            Special localized habitats and communities are few and unimportant here–

    abouts. They include “bird stone” effects such as that seen in Figure 86,

    where, in relation to manuring, a luxuriant grassy sward is developed locally

    around prominences to which scavengers and birds of prey repair, evenin the

    113      |      Vol_VI-0123                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    the most exposed and otherwise barren situations. On gneissic or marainic

    areas Hierochloe alpina and Luzula confusa are usually important in this

    evidently nitrophilous community, but on the limestone Poa arctica or some–

    times Alopecurus alpinus may be unaccompanied by other grasses. Somewhat

    similar in grassiness, but with a tendency to more heathy (e.g., with Vac

    cinium uliginosum var. alpinum ) and beset with such rampant forbs as [ ?]

    Saxifraga tricuspidata , are occasional small mounds looking like old skua

    hummocks from two to four feet high and sometimes not much wider, composed

    largely of peaty muck. They are to be met on the damp plains inland that

    are often vegetated by rather scrappy, interrupted marsh (with patches of

    heath on any slightly raised area), and are much visited by snowy owls

    ( Nyctea nyctea ), arctic foxes ( Alopex lagopus ), and other predators and

    scavengers. Whatever the origin of these mounds, their effect is cumulative;

    the bigger the prominence the more it is visited, the more manured, and the

    richer the dependent growth, making it more conspicuous and furthermore

    visited, and so on (cf. 44, p.219).

            Freshwater habitats investigated in late summer here included persistent

    trickles and puddles of water that supported green wefts or a yellowish scum

    of filamentous algae, generally sterile Zygnema spp. Like some of the more

    open, peaty depressions in marshes, the beds of these streams, where they

    were lastingly damp and of moss or mud, supported various open-soil and

    diminutive colonists such as Arenaria rossii var. daethiana , A. uliginosa ,

    Braya sp., Cardamine pratensis var. angustifolia , Carex atrofusca and C. bi

    color , Chrys a nthemum integrifolium , Epilobium davuricum var. arcticum , Equise

    arvense and E. variegatum , Eutrema edwardsii , Juncus biglumis , Lychnis

    apetala , Ranunculus hyperboreus , Saxifraga tenuis , S. Oppositifolia , and

    S. rivularis .

    114      |      Vol_VI-0124                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

            Deposits of mud about lakes were rich in desmids and other diminutive

    algae, including in one [ ?] instance much sterile Zygnema sp. or spp. in which

    were scattered the hitherto undescribed Closteriopsis brevicula , and also

    Cosmarium subarctum , Staurastrum muticum , and S. proboscidium . Luxuriant

    dark-brown beds of aquatic mosses covered the bottoms of many lakes, at

    least near their margins. In one instance where the water was shallow (1

    to 3 feet) the species concerned were Drepanocla [ ?] dus revolvens , D. sendtneri ,

    and Scorpidium scorpioides . In some of the brownish-green, slimy deposit

    taken in late August from the bottom of this lake near its margin were iden–

    tified 33 different species of diatoms. Figure 87 illustrates how, where a

    lake’s margin is of rock, phanerogamic colonists are usually absent, but

    where it is of shelving mud or gravel there may be beds of semiaquatics ex–

    tending out into the water. The plants that do this most actively are Carex

    aquatilis , Colpodium fulvum var. effusum , Eriophorum angustifolium , and Hip

    puris vulgaris , and any of these may form luxuriant beds quite locally, at

    least where the water is not more than 30 centimeters deep. Behind may

    stretch luxuriant flat or tussocky marshes dominated by the Eriophorum or

    Carex which may attain a height of 50 centimeters, and have associated

    Sali ces Salices , Carex membranacea , C. physocarpa , and such tall and coarse grasses

    as Arctostaphylos latifolia and Dupontia fisheri . Such a marsh is seen in

    the foreground of Figure 87 and characteristically supports busy willows

    toward its margin.

            Seashore and marine communities vary as usual with local habitat condi–

    tions, and include fairly extensive salt-marsh areas and evidently plentiful

    large algae — to judge by the Laminariaceae and other that are to be found

    115      |      Vol_VI-0125                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    cast up on the shore in a fresh condition. The intertidal banks in most places

    slant only slightly and near the Hudson’s Bay Company post consist of rounded

    boulders of all sizes embedded in clayey gravel, which is light gray and com–

    posed largely of limestone material. Here vegetation is plentiful. Fucus

    vesiculosus is abundant almost everywhere that it can get a stipe hold, and

    various associated smaller algae occur, including species of Cladophora , Enter

    omorpha , and Ulothrix even near high watermark. The shores above are in most

    places of rocks or boulders that are devoid of higher plants where reaches by

    waves, but behind soon come to support ordinary land vegetation. However, in

    places small areas of mud or sand are found, which may support the usual com–

    munity of such situations, namely, a tangled mat [ ?] of reddish Puccinellia

    phryganodes , with associated P. paupercula , Stellaria crassifolia , S. humifusa ,

    Cochlearia officinalis var. arctica and var. groenlandica , Matricaria inodora

    var. nana , Carex glareosa var. amphigena , C. salina and its var. subspathacea ,

    and in places C. ursina . Elsewhere there may be quite extensive mud flats and

    salt marshes, or instead a shingly beach colonized by Elymus arenarius var.

    villosus and Arenaria peploides var. diffusa , and, in sandy places higher up,

    by a host of open-soil and other plants from the raised land behind.


    West Coast of Hudson Bay

            This remaining phytogeographical subdivision of the Canadian Eastern Arctic

    comprises the Hudson Bay and Roes Welcome coast of Keewatin and its adjacent

    small islands, but for the present purpose it is taken to exclude areas that

    lie more than a few tens of miles west of the general sea coast. It extends

    from latitude 60° N. northward to the Arctic Circle (lat. 66°32′ N.). Although

    it may be quite hilly in places, with elevations sometimes rising to about 1,000

    116      |      Vol_VI-0126                                                                                                                  
    EA-PS. Polunin: Canadian Eastern Arctic

    feet (305 m.), the region as a whole is rather low; thus the country belongs

    to the coastal plains, most of which here emerged from the sea only in rela–

    tively recent times (cf. 6, pp.5 et seq .). The surface may be rocky and

    broken, as is also the coast in many places, but in a general way the whole

    has been smoothed by glacial and wave action. Especially in the south is

    the land low and flat; elsewhere the coast tends to be beset with islands

    and reefs (cf. 65, pp.65-70; 5).

            Broadly speaking, the geology of this district is simple, the northern

    half being occupied by a single series of granites and gneisses, wh