From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Saxifraga cochlearis1.jpg
Saxifraga cochlearis
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Saxifragales
Family: Saxifragaceae
Genus: Saxifraga
Tourn. ex L.
Type species
Saxifraga granulata

See text

Synonyms [1]

Boecherarctica Á.Löve
Cascadia A.M.Johnson
Micranthes Haw.
Zahlbrucknera Rchb.

Saxifraga is the largest genus in the family Saxifragaceae, containing about 465 species of holarctic perennial plants, known as saxifrages[2] or rockfoils.[3] The Latin word saxifraga means literally "stone-breaker", from Latin saxum ("rock" or "stone") + frangere ("to break"). It is usually thought to indicate a medicinal use for treatment of urinary calculi (known as kidney or bladder stones), rather than breaking rocks apart.[2][4]


Most saxifrages are small perennial, biennial (e.g. S. adscendens) or annual (e.g. S. tridactylites) herbaceous plants whose basal or cauline leaves grow close to the ground, often in a rosette. The leaves typically have a more or less incised margin; they may be succulent, needle-like and/or hairy, reducing evaporation.[5][6][7]

The inflorescence or single flower clusters rise above the main plant body on naked stalks. The small actinomorphic hermaphrodite flowers have five petals and sepals and are usually white, but red to yellow in some species. Stamens, usually 10, rarely 8, insert at the junction of the floral tube and ovary wall, with filaments subulate or clavate. As in other primitive eudicots, some of the 5 or 10 stamens may appear petal-like.[citation needed] and it lives in tundral ecosystems.[5][8][6]


A genus of about 465 species. The former monotypic genus Saxifragella has been submersed within Saxifraga, the largest genus in Saxifragaceae, as Saxifraga bicuspidata.[9][5] Also the genus Saxifragopsis (strawberry saxifrage) was previously included in Saxifraga.[1]


Based on morphological criteria, up to 15 sections were recognised.[10] Subsequent molecular phylogenetic studies reduced this to 13 sections with 9 subsections. The former sections Micranthes and Merkianae are more closely related to the Boykinia and Heuchera clades.[11] Modern floras separate these groups as the genus Micranthes.[12][6]

The thirteen sections (with subsections) are:[13]

  • Irregulares
  • Saxifragella
  • Pseudocymbalaria
  • Bronchiales
  • Ciliatae
  • Cymbalaria
  • Cotylea
  • Gymnopera
  • Mesogyne
  • Trachyphyllum
  • Ligulatae
  • Porphyrion
    • Squarrosae
    • Mutatae
    • Oppositifoliae
    • Florulentae
    • Kabschia
  • Saxifraga
    • Tridactylites
    • Androsaceae
    • Arachnoideae
    • Saxifraga

Selected species[edit]

Formerly placed here[edit]

Plants formerly placed in Saxifraga are mainly but not exclusively Saxifragaceae. They include:[citation needed]

Other "saxifragous" plants[edit]

Several plant genera have names referring to saxifrages, although they might not be close relatives of Saxifraga. They include:[citation needed]

  • Golden-saxifrages, Chrysosplenium
  • Burnet-saxifrages, Pimpinella
  • Pepper-saxifrage, Silaum silaus. The name "silaum" comes from the Latin word sil, which means yellow ochre. This refers to the sulphorous yellow colour of the flowers.[16]

Some plants refer to Saxifraga in their generic names or specific epithets, either because they are also "rock-breaking" or because they resemble members of the saxifrage genus:[citation needed]


Round-leaved saxifrage (S. rotundifolia), whose sticky leaves seem to catch small invertebrates

Saxifrages are typical inhabitants of Arctic–alpine ecosystems, and are hardly ever found outside the temperate parts of the Northern Hemisphere; most members of this genus are found in subarctic climates. A good number of species grow in glacial habitats, such as S. biflora which can be found some 4,000 m (13,000 ft) above sea level in the Alps, or the East Greenland saxifrage (S. nathorstii). The genus is also abundant in the Eastern and Western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows. Though the archetypal saxifrage is a small plant huddling between rocks high up on a mountain, many species do not occur in such a habitat and are larger (though still rather delicate) plants found on wet meadows.

Various Saxifraga species are used as food plants by the caterpillars of some butterflies and moths, such as the Phoebus Apollo (Parnassius phoebus).[17]

Charles Darwin – erroneously believing Saxifraga to be allied to the sundew family (Droseraceae) – suspected the sticky-leaved round-leaved saxifrage (S. rotundifolia), rue-leaved saxifrage (S. tridactylites) and Pyrenean saxifrage (S. umbrosa) to be protocarnivorous plants, and conducted some experiments whose results supported his observations,[18] but the matter has apparently not been studied since his time.


Numerous species and cultivars of saxifrage are cultivated as ornamental garden plants, valued particularly as groundcover or as cushion plants in rock gardens and alpine gardens. Many require alkaline or neutral soil to thrive.[7]

S. × urbium (London pride), a hybrid between Pyrenean saxifrage (S. umbrosa) and St. Patrick's cabbage (S. spathularis), is commonly grown as an ornamental plant.[2] Another horticultural hybrid is Robertsoniana saxifrage (S. × geum), derived from kidney saxifrage (S. hirsuta) and Pyrenean saxifrage.[citation needed] Some wild species are also used in gardening. Cambridge University Botanic Garden hosts the United Kingdom's national collection of saxifrages.[2]

Award of Garden Merit[edit]

The following species and cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:-[19]


The leaves of some saxifrage species, such as creeping saxifrage (S. stolonifera) and S. pensylvanica,[50] are edible. The former is a food in Korea[51] and Japan.[citation needed] The flowers of purple saxifrage (S. oppositifolia) are eaten in Nunavut, Canada and the leaves and stems brewed as a tea.[52]

Species are also used in traditional medicine, such as creeping saxifrage in East Asia[53] and round-leaved saxifrage (S. rotundifolia) in Europe.[54]

Two species—purple saxifrage and creeping saxifrage—are popular floral emblems. They are official flowers for:


  1. ^ a b "Saxifraga L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. February 9, 2005. Retrieved January 20, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d "Saxifraga". National Plant Collections. Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  3. ^ Roger Spencer, ed. Horticultural Flora of South-Eastern Australia. UNSW Press, 2002. p. 81. ISBN 9780868401676
  4. ^ D. A. Webb & R. J. Gornall (1989). Saxifrages of Europe. Christopher Helm. p. 19. ISBN 0-7470-3407-9.
  5. ^ a b c Gornall 2011.
  6. ^ a b c Brouillet & Elvander 2008.
  7. ^ a b RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.
  8. ^ Jintang et al 2004.
  9. ^ Deng et al 2015.
  10. ^ Gornall 1987.
  11. ^ Soltis et al 1996.
  12. ^ Flora of China
  13. ^ Tkach et al 2015.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Umberto Quattrocchi. CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names: Common Names, Scientific Names, Eponyms. Synonyms, and Etymology. CRC Press, 1999. p.2395-2396. ISBN 9780849326738
  15. ^ Knaben, G. (1934). "Saxifraga osloensis n. sp., a tetraploid species of the Tridactylites section". Nytt Magasin for Botanikk: 117–138.
  16. ^ Reader's Digest Nature Lover's Library Wild Flowers of Britain, page 192, published 1988
  17. ^ Ivo Novák (1980). A Field Guide in Colour to Butterflies and Moths. Octopus Books. ISBN 0-7064-1293-1.
  18. ^ Charles Darwin (1875). "Drosophyllum – Roridula – Byblis – glandular hairs of other plants – concluding remarks on the Droseraceae". Insectivorous Plants (1st ed.). London: J. Murray. pp. 332–367.
  19. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 95. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  20. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga 'Angelina Johnson'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  21. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga 'Blackberry and Apple Pie'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  22. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Saxifraga callosa". Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  23. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga 'Conwy Snow'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  24. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga 'Coolock Kate'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  25. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga 'Cumulus'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  26. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Saxifraga fortunei". Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  27. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga 'Gregor Mendel' (× fortunei)". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  28. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga 'Lagraveana'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  29. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Saxifraga 'Lutea'". Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  30. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Saxifraga 'Minor'". Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  31. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga 'Moe'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  32. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga 'Monarch'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  33. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga 'Mount Nachi'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  34. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga 'Peach Melba'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  35. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga (Silver Farreri Group) 'Reginald Farrer'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  36. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga 'Rokujo' (fortunei)". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  37. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Saxifraga 'Rosea'". Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  38. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga 'Shiranami'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  39. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga (Southside Seedling Group) 'Slack's Ruby Southside'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  40. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga (Silver Farreri Group) 'Snowflake'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  41. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - (Southside seedling Group) 'Southside Star'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  42. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Saxifraga stolonifera". Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  43. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga 'Sue Drew'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  44. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga Sugar Plum Fairy='Toujya'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  45. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Saxifraga 'Theoden'". Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  46. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Saxifraga 'Tumbling Waters'". Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  47. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Saxifraga × urbium". Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  48. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga 'Venetia' (paniculata)". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  49. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Saxifraga 'Whitehill'". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  50. ^ Niering, William A.; Olmstead, Nancy C. (1985) [1979]. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Knopf. p. 780. ISBN 0-394-50432-1.
  51. ^ Chon, Sang-Uk; Heo, Buk-Gu; Park, Yong-Seo; Cho, Ja-Yong; Gorinstein, Shela (2008). "Characteristics of the leaf parts of some traditional Korean salad plants used for food". Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 88 (11): 1963–1968. doi:10.1002/jsfa.3304. ISSN 1097-0010.
  52. ^ Official Flower of Nunavut, Nunavut, Canada
  53. ^ Ji-xian Guo, Ki Sung Chung, Paul Pui-hay But, Takeatsu Kimura (1996). International Collation Of Traditional And Folk Medicine, Vol 2: Northeast Asia Part 2. World Scientific Publishing Company. p. 65.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  54. ^ Pieroni, Andrea; Quave, Cassandra L., eds. (2014). Ethnobotany and Biocultural Diversities in the Balkans. New York: Springer.
  55. ^ "The Official Flower of Nunavut: Purple Saxifrage". Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2011.
  56. ^ County flowers in Britain Archived 14 February 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  57. ^ "City flower, bird and tree" (in Japanese). City of Tsukuba. Retrieved 17 June 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)



External links[edit]