Heide-Jørgensen, H. S. 2024. Further notes on Elephanthead lousewort, Pedicularis groenlandica. – Haustorium 85 p. 11

From the scientific name P. groenlandica, one
might think the species is widely distributed in
Greenland, however, it is only known from one
locality, Præstefjord, about 27 km southeast of the
main city Nuuk where it grows on a moist river
bank (Fig. 1). The Danish botanist Johannes Vahl
found it in 1790ties and assumed it was a new
species. Therefore he sent herbarium material to
Linné in Sweden, who passed it on to his pupil A J
Retzius, who became a professor in Natural History
at the University of Lund. Retzius was unaware
that the species occurred in many localities in
North America and he named it P. groenlandica
Retz. based on the material from the type locality
in Præstefjord. Funny enough, its presence in
Greenland was forgotten for more than 150 years
and it was first rediscovered in 1940 by botanists. -
The twisted upper lip of the flower resembles an
elephant's trunk and is preserved in the ripe capsule
for longer time (Fig. 2). No doubt the shape of the
lip inspired P A Rydberg when he established the
synonym Elephantella groenlandica (Retz.) Rydb.,
which was published in 1900 in Mem. New York
Bot. Gard. 1: 363.
Of cause, it is unknown how P. groenlandica came
to Greenland, but snow geese most likely have
transported seeds across the Baffin Bay from
Canada. Snow geese raise young in many places in
Greenland during summer and migrate to North
America for the winter. Most likely they have also
introduced another lousewort from Canada to
Greenland in recent time, exactly P. albolabiata
(Hulten), Y P Kozh. which Ib Johnsen and I found
at Qaanaaq in 1994 as the second of only two
known localities in Greenland.

From a note in Haustorium 84, one could get the impression that Rydberg is the author of the valid scientific name of Pedicularis groenlandica but that is not the case. Therefore I published the note above including the two figs. which by a mistake was omitted in Haustorium 85.