Wait, wait, it’s on the tip of my tongue…oh, I guess it isn’t

Just shows to go you, as someone said. I found this twin little rosette of plants on a damp cliff on the Back Mountain Trail. It looked familiar but I couldn’t ID it so went to a plant ID site and was told it was early small-flowered saxifrage, a mouthful, but one that I should have remembered swirling around in my mouth last year.


Because when I looked at the photos from last year it turns out I had identified this EXACT same plant as early small-flowered saxifrage, and then promptly forgot about it. This is happening way too often so I’ve gone back to what I did years ago and I’m trying to meticulously record everything I see so that NEXT year I can look back and not go through this again. Yes, a mind is a terrible thing to waste as I’m amply demonstrating!unknown

Plant Info
Also known as: Virginia Saxifrage
Genus: Micranthes
Family: Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage)
Life cycle: perennial
Origin: native
Habitat: sun; cliffs, rock outcrops, rocky slopes, stream banks
Bloom season: May – June
Plant height: 4 to 12 inches
Wetland Indicator Status: GP: none MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge): Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge): National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: flat Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flowers] Branched clusters of stalked flowers at the top of the stem, initially compact and flat to dome-shaped, elongating and spreading later as fruit develops. Flowers are about 1/6 inch across with 5 white, oblong-elliptic petals, 10 yellow stamens surrounding (usually) 2 teardrop shaped carpels in the center. The calyx holding the flower is hairy and glandular, and has 5 lobes shorter than the petals.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are all basal, 1 to 3 inches long, oval to spatula shaped, coarsely toothed and hairy around the edges, rounded at the tip and tapering at the base to a short stalk. Surfaces are variously hairy with reddish brown hairs, and glandular. Flowering stems are round, densely hairy, single or multiple from the base, about 4 inches tall at first flowering, elongating up to 12 inches in fruit.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a green to purplish capsule containing numerous tiny seeds in vertical rows. When 2 carpels are present, they are angled so the bases are nearly joined with the tips spreading away from each other (divergent).


Not a common species in Minnesota by any stretch, Early Saxifrage is more similar to the rare Encrusted Saxifrage (Saxifraga paniculata), which is also found on the rocky north shore of Lake Superior, than to the more closely related and common Swamp Saxifrage (Micranthes pensylvanica), which is a far taller plant found in seeps, wet woods, and other swampy habitats. S. paniculata is distinguished by its stem leaves, denser basal rosette of white-edged leaves, and

Author: luzerne2112

As I get older -- and I'm 70 now -- I seem to find more and more that nature is the true source of peace, inspiration and, most of all, the truth the passeth understanding. Though my knowledge is sketchy and superficial, I wanted to share it while I can.

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