Micranthes nivalis

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Micranthes nivalis
Saxifraga nivalis close-up trimmed upernavik 2007-07-02.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Saxifragales
Family: Saxifragaceae
Genus: Micranthes
M. nivalis
Binomial name
Micranthes nivalis
(L.) Small
  • Dermasea nivalis (L.) Haw.
  • Micranthes kumlienii Small
  • Micranthes nivalis (L.) Small
  • Robertsonia nivalis (L.) Link
  • Saxifraga kumlienii (Small) Fedde
  • Saxifraga nivalis f. longipetiolata Engl. & Irmsch.
  • Saxifraga obtusa Nasarow

Micranthes nivalis is a plant species in the saxifrage family. It is commonly called snow saxifrage or (ambiguously) "alpine saxifrage".

Found on irrigated rocks or open vegetation in shaded sites, often on mountain ledges and crags with base rich substratum. This species is not very tolerant of competition and so is found in damp crevasses where it survives in small pockets. M. nivalis is a perennial species which has been found to set seed in Scotland but not in Cumbria where the populations are small and threatened.

This species is also found in Norway, Ireland, Svalbard, northern Germany, Russia, Canada, Alaska and Greenland.[2][3]

The plant was first described by Carl Linnaeus in Flora Lapponica (1737), as a result of his Lapland voyage.[4]

Some populations from the Canadian Province of Quebec have been recognized as a distinct species by some authors,[3][5] a variety of M. nivalis others:[6][7]

  • Saxifraga gaspensis Fernald
    • Saxifraga nivalis var. gaspensis (Fernald) B. Boivin
    • Micranthes gaspensis (Fernald) Small

is distinguished from var. nivalis by smaller inflorescences and narrower leaves. It is known only from the Shickshock Mountains of the Gaspé Peninsula of southeastern Québec. It has been suggested that this may be a hybrid of M. nivalis and M. tenuis; further study is warranted.[3]