Alaska Arctic Plant Communities

12. Chamerion latifolium-Artemisia arctica

Photo A. <em>Epilobium latifolium</em> colonizing barren river alluvium, Kuparuk River, Subzone D, Alaska. Walker slide 74-13-5. D.A. Walker.

Photo A. Epilobium latifolium colonizing barren river alluvium, Kuparuk River, Subzone D, Alaska. Walker slide 74-13-5. Photo D.A. Walker.
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Photo B. <em>Epilobium latifolium</em> colonizing barren river alluvium, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Subzone E, Alaska. Walker slide 81-20-22. D.A. Walker.

Photo B. Epilobium latifolium colonizing barren river alluvium, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Subzone E, Alaska. Walker slide 81-20-22. Photo D.A. Walker.
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Photo C. <em>Epilobium latifolium</em> colonizing barren river alluvium, Brooks Range, Subzone E, Alaska. Walker slide 82-12-12. D.A. Walker.

Photo C. Epilobium latifolium colonizing barren river alluvium, Brooks Range, Subzone E, Alaska. Walker slide 82-12-12. Photo D.A. Walker.
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Bioclimate Subzone: C

Floristic Subprovince: Northern Alaska

Substrate Chemistry: Nonacidic

Position along mesotopographic gradient: Riparian site, active

Summary of Habitat: Sand and gravel river bars in subzones C and D

Described from: Prudhoe Bay (Walker 1985), Sagavanirktok River (Schickhoff et al. 2002)

 

Common plant functional types and species:

Prostrate dwarf shrubs: Salix alaxensis; Salix ovalifolia;

Graminoid: Alopecurus alpinus; Arctagrostis latifolia; Bromus pumpellianus; Dupontia fisheri; Festuca rubra; Festuca brachyphylla; Leymus arenarius; Trisetum spicatum;

Forb: Chamerion latifolium; Artemisia arctica; Artemisia glomerata; Artemisia borealis; Androsace chamaejasme; Armeria maritima; Astragalus alpinus; Braya purpurascens; Cerastium beeringianum; Draba spp.; Erigeron eriocephalus; Lloydia serotina; Minuartia rubella; Minuartia arctica; Papaver lapponicum; Parnassia kotzebuei; Parrya nudicaulis; Polemonium boreale; Bistorta vivipara; Saxifraga oppositifolia; Wilhelmsia physodes;

Horsetail: Equisetum arvense;

 

General Comments:

  • Cold temperatures limit the growth of shrubs and the number of species that can colonize the riparian habitats in Subzone C. Generally there are no riparian shrublands. Woody plants on the river bars are limited to prostrate growth forms of species such as Salix alaxensis and Salix ovalifolia. The early colonizers of the gravels in the farthest north sites are a mix of a few forbs and grasses, most notably the River Beauty Epilobium latifolium. As one travels away from the coast the changes in the abundance of forbs is dramatic. For example, one river bar along the Kuparuk River, only about 10 km inland, had 66 species, nearly a third of the total flora for the Prudhoe Bay region (Walker, 1985).
  • Revegetation of abandoned gravel pads in the Prudhoe Bay oil field is dependent on species involved in the early-succession phases of gravel bars (McKendrick 1991).

 

Other names from the Alaska literature: