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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.
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