Saxifraga paniculata (Encrusted Saxifrage)
|Also known as:||White Mountain Saxifrage|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; rocky ledges and crevices on shady or protected cliffs|
|Bloom season:||June - July|
|Plant height:||4 to 12 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: none MW: none NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Compact, branching cluster of stalked flowers at the top of the stem. Flowers are ¼ to 1/3 inch across with 5 rounded petals and 10 pale yellow-tipped stamens around a greenish to yellowish center. Petal color is white to pink, often dotted with purplish spots. Sepals are erect, hairy, often reddish.
Leaves and stems:
Basal leaves form a dense rosette around the stem. Leaves are ¾ to 1¼ inches long, stiff and leathery, mostly hairless, rounded to pointed at the tip, stalkless, and with an unusual serration around the edges. Pores on the edge secrete lime, which gives the teeth a white crust and is where the common name comes from.
Stem leaves are alternate and widely spaced, toothed and lime-encrusted on the upper half. Stems are hairy, often reddish. Small colonies can form from short, spreading rhizomes. Stems and leaves may persist through the winter, sometimes evergreen sometimes losing all color.
Encrusted Saxifrage is an alpine species also present in Canada, New England, Greenland, Iceland and Norway. According to the DNR, Minnesota populations were only known from the Canadian border in Cook County until 1993, when the Biological Survey discovered new populations along the north shore of Lake Superior in Cook and Lake counties. It was listed as a Threatened Species in 1984 and downgraded to Special Concern in 2013. Its habitat is restricted to the thin soils of crevices and ledges on north-facing or protected cliffs. A somewhat similar species is Early Saxifrage (Micranthes virginiensis), which is also found along the North Shore, but has no stem leaves, smaller flowers, and fewer basal leaves that lack the white edging.
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Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Cook and Lake counties.
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