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Meadow Saxifrage

Saxifraga granulata

  • Family: Saxifrage Family – Saxifragaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb.
  • Height: 15–40 cm (6–16 in.). Stem sparsely leaved, with glandular hairs, base with spherical, pink bulbils.
  • Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), white, approx. 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in.) wide; petals five, 9–16 mm (0.36–0.64 in.) long, 3–4 times as long as calyx. Sepals 5, with glandular hairs. Stamens 10. Styles 2, fused at base. Inflorescence a lax, 3–10-flowered corymb. Flower fragrant.
  • Leaves: In basal rosette and alternate on lower part of stem, rosette leaves long-stalked, uppermost stem leaves almost stalkless. Blade almost round–kidney-shaped, large-toothed–almost entire, thickish, sparsely haired.
  • Fruit: 2-parted egg-shaped capsule.
  • Habitat: Rocky ridges, meadows, coppices, pastures, gravels, harbours.
  • Flowering time: May–June.
  • Endangerment: Near threatened.

Meadow saxifrage’s scientific species name granulata means ‘with grain’, while Saxifraga means ‘rock-breaker’. The name is linked to its use as a medicinal plant, when it was used to break up gall stones and kidney stones. Meadow saxifrage’s bulbils were used for this purpose. The name could also refer to the plant’s habitat, however, as they grow on thin soil and often seem to be breaking the rock that they are growing out of.

Meadow saxifrage blooms at the beginning of summer as the melting snow and ice saturate the earth. After flowering it dies, leaving only its bulbils. In high summer the plant’s favoured habitat dries out completely and it has a rest, but at the end of the summer and in the autumn the bulbils develop a rosette that will flower the following summer or sometimes after collecting strength for a whole growing season. Despite its handsome inflorescence meadow saxifrage’s seed production is often modest and its bulbils are its main method of propagation. Its bulbils are very efficient, and are the means by which the species spread to Finland a long time ago in sailing boats’ ballast soil. It has only managed to establish itself in south-west Finland and can only be called common on the main islands of the Åland Islands.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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