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Wedgeleaf Saxifrage

Saxifraga adscendens

  • Name also: Ascending Saxifrage, Rock Saxifrage, Biennial Saxifrage
  • Family: Saxifrage Family – Saxifragaceae
  • Growing form: Biennial herb.
  • Height: 10–25 cm (4–10 in.). Stem upper part branched, abundantly leaved, with glandular hairs.
  • Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), white (sometimes yellowish–reddish), approx. 1.5 cm (0.6 in.) wide; petals five, 7–10 mm (0.28–0.4 in.) long, 3 times as long as sepals, with notched tip. Sepals 5. Stamens 10. Styles 2, fused at base. Flowers solitary.
  • Leaves: In basal rosette and alternate along stem. Basal leaves long-lasting, stalkless, blades 5-lobed. Stem leaves 3–7-lobed.
  • Fruit: 2-parted, spherical capsule.
  • Habitat: Dry rocky slopes, gravels, meadows. Calcicole.
  • Flowering time: May–June.
  • Endangerment: Endangered, protected in all of Finland.

Many Finnish saxifrage plants are northern Lappish plants, but a number of species that have adapted to warmer climates can be found in southern Finland. Wedgeleaf saxifrage demands lime and is rare in Finland’s barren soils. It grows here and there between Kaarina and Nurmijärvi, and most stands are in the Lohja area, on Kemiönsaari, and in the calciferous soils of Särkisalo. Most stands are small: suitable soil might only cover a few square metres and support a stand of only 50–200 plants. As a biennial it is typical of wedgeleaf saxifrage that there are huge fluctuations in its numbers from one year to the next: a stand of hundreds can shrink the following year to consist of only a handful of plants. Even if the population seems to have disappeared, wedgeleaf saxifrage is capable of returning to its former habitat from seeds stored underground.

Natural fires and later also grazing cattle in forests and on rocks kept wedgeleaf saxifrage’s habitat open, but if its environment becomes grassed over or otherwise choked the plant has a hard time surviving. A greater threat than other plants is however people, which are destroying the plant’s habitat: quarrying limestone has led to a decline in suitable rocks, and habitats that are close to water also usually make good sites for summer cottages. Wedgeleaf saxifrage has specialized in the scant limestone rocks of southern Finland and would be rare in the wild in any case. The most important thing for this species is to ensure the preservation of its preferred rocky habitat.

There is also another saxifrage that grows in the south of Finland called rue-leaved saxifrage (S. tridactylites). Its petals are clearly smaller and have entire tips, and the plant in general is clearly smaller.

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

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