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Saxifragaceae: Saxifrage Family Plant Identification Characteristics.

Saxifragaceae
Plants of the Saxifrage Family

      If you spend much time in the mountains then you have probably encountered members of the Saxifrage family. You are most likely to encounter them on thin soils - pretty much growing right out of the rocks - as well as along moist, high mountain creeks. Most have rounded, variously lobed basal leaves. The flowers of the Saxifrage family are typically small, often less than 1/4 inch in diameter, with a few eye-catching individuals approaching 1/2 an inch. The flowers are regular and bisexual, usually with 5 separate sepals and 5 (rarely 0) separate petals. There are 5 or 10 stamens. The ovary is usually positioned superior with 2 (rarely 5) united carpels forming a single oblong chamber with 2 separate styles. This oblong-shaped ovary is one of the better keys to identifying this family. The ovary matures as a capsule with a few or numerous seeds per carpel. Worldwide, there are about 30 genera, representing 580 species. Twenty genera are found in North America.

Key Words: Small plants with small flowers, parts in fives, plus an oblong pistil with 2 styles.

Please e-mail Thomas J. Elpel to report mistakes or to inquire about purchasing high resolution photos of these plants.


Heuchera cylindrica. Alum Root.

Heuchera cylindrica. Alum Root.

Heuchera cylindrica. Alum Root.

Heuchera cylindrica. Alum Root.

Saxifraga oregana. Oregon Bog Saxifrage.

Saxifraga oregana. Oregon Bog Saxifrage.

Saxifraga oregana. Oregon Bog Saxifrage.

Saxifraga oregana. Oregon Bog Saxifrage.

Saxifraga odontoloma. Brook Saxifrage.

Saxifraga odontoloma. Brook Saxifrage.

Saxifraga odontoloma. Brook Saxifrage.

Saxifraga odontoloma. Brook Saxifrage.

Foraging the Mountain West
Foraging the Mountain West
Saxifraga spp. Pink Saxifrage.

Saxifraga spp. Pink Saxifrage.

Micranthes rhomboidea, also known as Saxifraga rhomboidea. Diamond Leaf Saxifrage.

Micranthes rhomboidea (also known as Saxifraga rhomboidea). Diamond Leaf Saxifrage.

Lithophragma parviflorum. Woodland Star.

Lithophragma parviflorum. Woodland Star.

Lithophragma parviflorum. Woodland Star.

Lithophragma parviflorum. Woodland Star.

Lithophragma parviflorum. Woodland Star.

Lithophragma parviflorum. Woodland Star.

Parnassia fimbriata. Fringed Grass of Parnassia.

Parnassia fimbriata. Fringed Grass of Parnassia.

Parnassia fimbriata. Fringed Grass of Parnassia.

Parnassia fimbriata. Fringed Grass of Parnassia. The plant is now considered part of the mostly tropical Staff Tree family (Celastraceae)

There are more
Saxifrage Family pictures
at PlantSystematics.org.


Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
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Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
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