Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Coastal BC Plants: Alaskan Saxifrage

Alaskan Saxifrage

Alaskan Saxifrage among the moss.
I have to walk up four flights of stairs to get up to my hillside potato patch and compost bin. I make the trek several times a week and always look at things along the path. The granite cliff itself is always interesting. And I like to see what the natural vegetation is doing.

On a trip up the stairs I saw some pretty little white flowers. After depositing my vegetable scraps in the bin, I went back to the cabin to get my camera. I used the pictures and my nature guides to find a match. With limited Internet access, books are a great alternative.


Paging through Plants of Coastal British Columbia I found that it was Alaska Saxifrage (Saxafraga ferruginea). This plant is quite widespread and there are several variations along its coastal range from southern Washington to southern Alaska, and from sea level to alpine regions. As a perennial plant, it gets an early start in spring.

Thin reddish stems rise from a cluster of basal leaves.

The plant’s fleshy, hairy, spoon-shaped leaves are arranged in an array around the base. A short (10-35 cm) stiff stem rises straight up, sometimes branching, ending with small white (to purple) five-petaled flowers. The stamens on short stalks in the center give the flowers a spiky appearance. Its nickname is Rusty Saxifrage because of the rust colour in the sepals.


Alaskan Saxifrage can be found on moist cliffs, wet rocks, and mossy spots. Mine were tucked in among the mosses that line the notch up our granite cliff. We are at an elevation of 155 feet. -- Margy

References: Plants of Coastal British Columbia by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon (Lone Pine Publishing, 1994) and E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia (online).

15 comments:

  1. Live and learn. But the 4 flights of stairs to get a potato would be me doing without!

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    1. I only have to plant them once, put more soil over the plants once, and dig them up once. Wayne is good about watering them once in a while when he goes up the hill. Teamwork helps. - Margy

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  2. Replies
    1. So tiny I almost missed them. - Margy

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  3. My goodness you have a very interesting life! Your comment on my post mentioning a floating cabin and gardens had me heading right over here. Good to meet you!

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    1. Thanks for coming over to take a look. It is an interesting place to live. - Margy

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  4. Beautiful... it reminds me of the flowers which were used in the trilogie from Lord of the Rings. Thank you for pulling that memory up in me

    Melody (ABC-W-team)
    20-S
    Preview Round 21
    Have a splendid ABC-day / week

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    1. It probably sounds funny, but I've never seen any of the Lord of the Rings movies. - Margy

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  5. I have saxifrage growing at my allotment but it has pink flowers. You certainly have to do a lot of climbing! Xxx

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    1. Pink would be really pretty. I don't go up the hill every day. And when I do I try to do several things like take a bucket of compost up to the pile, water the potato patch, or go exploring for things to photograph. There's a nice driftwood bench up on the bluff that's a good place to sit and enjoy the view. - Margy

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  6. Pretty cool, Margy. I love to find new things, flowers for example and then research and discover what they are, Good for you.
    I've seen the pink before
    MB

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  7. You don't have to go to a gym to get your exercise do you? But what a beautiful climb!

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  8. I so love finding something, either new, or new to me, and finding out what it is!

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