Pilose Braya, Braya pilosa Hooker (Cruciferae; Brassicaceae), an Enigmatic Endemic of Arctic Canada


  • James G. Harris Biology Department, Utah Valley State College, 800 West University Parkway, Orem, Utah 84058




Braya pilosa, Pilose Braya, discovery, rediscovery, distribution, collections, rare species, Cape Bathurst, Northwest Territories, Canada


Braya pilosa Hooker, Pilose Braya, has been poorly understood among North American botanists due to a paucity of fruiting specimens for study. This has resulted in confusion about the taxonomic position of the taxon within Braya, and has led to speculation about its generic status. An examination of fruiting specimens from the Royal Botanic Garden Herbarium at Kew, England reveals that B. pilosa is correctly placed in the genus Braya, and that it is a distinctive member of the genus deserving recognition at the specific level. I discuss the historical evidence that B. pilosa may not have been collected since 1850 due to its extremely restricted distribution on the Cape Bathurst Peninsula of the Northwest Territories of Canada. I also present evidence suggesting that B. pilosa is diploid and may be a parent species to some of the more widespread members of the genus, all of which are polyploid. Its closest living relative is probably B. thorild-wulffii.