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Yellow Mountain Saxifrage

Saxifraga aizoides

  • Name also: Yellow Saxifrage, Evergreen Saxifrage
  • Family: Saxifrage Family – Saxifragaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb. Loosely tufted–occasionally forms stands.
  • Height: 5–15 cm (2–6 in.). Stem ascending, abundantly leaved.
  • Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), yellow and often red-spotted, sometimes reddish yellow or purplish red, 8–15 mm (0.32–0.6 in.) wide; petals five, 3–6 mm (0.12–0.24 in.) long, same length as calyx. Sepals 5, narrow, glabrous, with membranous margin. Stamens 10, yellow. Styles 2, fused at base. Inflorescence a 1–2-flowered corymb.
  • Leaves: Alternate, stalkless. Blade narrowly lanceolate–linear, bristle-tipped, with entire margins or sometimes with sparse, small teeth, sparsely ciliate, fleshy, light green–reddish.
  • Fruit: 2-parted, approx. 7 mm (0.28 in.) long capsule.
  • Habitat: Fell springs, river and stream banks, damp rocks and river banks, rich swamps in the coniferous forest zone. Calciphile.
  • Flowering time: June–August.

Yellow mountain saxifrage likes a maritime climate and damp, calciferous soil, which it finds in Finland on the nutritious fells of Kilpisjärvi in Finland’s north-western “arm”, but it is rare elsewhere in Lapland. Yellow mountain saxifrage usually grows in the lower tundra zone but it also finds suitable habitats among mountain birch woodland and even in the coniferous forest belt: Liikasenvaara in Kuusamo has very separate stands from its main habitat. Here it grows along spring streams.

On the basis of yellow mountain saxifrage’s current habitat, it is probable that it has spent the worst of the Ice Age in the east and then spread to the moraines that were being revealed as the ice retreated. As the climate warmed up and the forest began to take over, things began to get tougher for yellow mountain saxifrage and other fell species. Finland’s fell species have only survived in exceptionally boggy places. Yellow mountain saxifrage is one of the winners, however, as it still has a handful of places that it grows: part of the tundra species from the end of the Ice Age have since disappeared from Finland.

It is hard to miss the abundantly flowering carpets of yellow mountain saxifrage in the middle and end of the summer. The flowers are usually pale yellow with orange spots but orange and even purple forms are known of. The other parts of the flower follow the colour of the corolla: the darker the petals the darker the sepals, stamens and carpellary leaves. All three colour schemes can be found side by side in the same stand.

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

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