Sullivantia sullivantii (Sullivant's Coolwort)

Plant Info
Also known as: Reniform Sullivantia
Family:Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage)
Life cycle:perennial
  • State Threatened
Habitat:shade; moist to wet; cliffs
Bloom season:June - July
Plant height:2 to 16 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

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

[photo of flowers] Open, branching cluster at the top of the stem, the main branches loosely arranged and spreading to ascending and flowers mostly clustered at the branch tips. Flowers are about ¼ inch across, somewhat bell-shaped, white with 5 rounded petals and 5 yellow stamens.

[photo of glandular calyx] The calyx cupping the flower has a short tube and 5 lobes that are lance-oblong to narrowly triangular, the outer surface variably covered in glandular hairs, especially near the base of the tube. Stalks are slender and sparsely to moderately covered in glandular hairs. At the base of a branch is a small, leaf-like bract; those on the lower branches are typically 3-lobed.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are mostly basal, 1 to 3 inches wide and about as long, mostly hairless, long-stalked, kidney-shaped to round in outline with many shallow lobes each with 2 or 3 teeth, sometimes double-toothed. Flowering stems are erect to ascending, unbranched except in the flower cluster, and variably covered in glandular hairs.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is a capsule up to about 1/3 inch long, narrowly egg-shaped with 2 spreading beaks. Inside are many narrowly winged, tan to reddish brown seeds.


Sullivant's Coolwort, formerly known as Saxifraga sullivantii and Sullivantia renifolia, is a rare species in Minnesota as well as in much of its scattered range, and is found in the extreme southeast corner of MN. It grows in the cracks, crevices and shallow ledges of north-facing sandstone, limestone or dolomite cliffs where cool water seeps through the porous rock. According to the DNR, it was originally listed as a State Endangered species in 1984 when only 3 locations were known, but downgraded to Threatened in 1996 after biological surveys discovered 15 more locations. Risk factors are primarily from land-use activities such as quarrying and road construction. While the shallowly lobed, kidney-shaped leaves may resemble those of some other species, the open, branching cluster of small white flowers and the cliff habitat make it unique in the state.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Fillmore County.


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