bulbs of the north

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Wed, 19 Dec 2018 10:54:50 PST
I pulled out my venerable copy of Hulten's "Flora of Alaska and 
Neighboring Territories" (1968) to look some of these ranges up. It has 
circumboreal distribution maps for each species. Given the date of the 
book, please excuse any no longer valid names in the next paragraph.

Tofieldia (3 spp. in Alaska) extends to the Arctic Ocean coast of both 
North America and Eurasia, T. pusilla (no tuber) being the most coastal. 
Toxicoscordon (Zigadenus) is North American only and gets to apparently 
the higher part of the Brooks Range, well above the Arctic Circle. No 
North American Veratrum reaches the Arctic, but the Old World V. album 
does. Allium schoenoprasum (chives) is arctic (how did I forget that 
one); I recall that one of its native (Dene) names is tl'oo drik, which 
means something like "indigestion grass." lloydia serotina, which we are 
told is now a Gagea, reaches the Arctic Ocean coast. There are records 
for Iris setosa (not bulbous but it has a thick rhizome) above the 
Arctic Circle. Among the terrestrial orchids, we find Cypripedium 
guttatum, C. Calceolus ssp. parviflorum, C. passerinum, Amerorchis 
rotundifolia, Coeloglossum viride (Orchis bracteata), Platanthera 
hyperborea, P. obtusata, Spiranthes romanzoffiana, Listera borealis, 
Goodyera repens, Corallorrhiza trifida, Hammarbya paludosa, and Calypso 
bulbosa.

And as mentioned there are quite a few Ranunculus species in the high 
Arctic, but I haven't examined the tuber situation there.

I spent 12 years in interior Alaska and had opportunities to travel 
around the state. The wealth of plants to be seen is wonderful, though 
the growing season is so short (and dense with mosquitoes). Best of all, 
you can see and photograph "high" alpines at elevations where you don't 
even start breathing hard. And running around among the plants are 
hundreds of kinds of birds.

Jane McGary, Portland, Oregon, USA


On 12/18/2018 9:29 PM, Lyndon Penner wrote:
> I would guess that Zigadenus (which I think might be Toxicoscordion or
> something new now) would be one of the most northerly of bulbs, but I would
> also think that some of the  very tiny species of Tofieldia would be the
> most northerly reaching bulbs in the world. That's just a guess though. How
> far north does Veratrum grow? (It grows from a rhizome and not a bulb, but
> does that count?)
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