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Saxifraga oppositifolia – Purple Saxifrage

Saxifraga oppositifolia

Saxifraga oppositifolia is a fascinating plant, and although unlikely to be found in the Okanagan, we felt it was worthy of a place as our Plant of the Week choice for the last plant of February.  Saxifraga oppositifolia is a dense, low-growing plant found around the entire polar region of the northern hemisphere and at sea level in the Arctic.  It has very small, overlapping grey-green coloured leaves and blooms with a profusion of beautiful lilac-magenta coloured five petaled flowers.  To read more about this very interesting plant visit The Canadian Museum of Nature’s web page at: http://nature.ca/discover/treasures/plnts/tr2/sax_e.cfm

Botanical Name: Saxifraga oppositifolia

Common Name: Purple Saxifrage or Purple Mountain Saxifrage

Plant Type: Perennial herb with the potential to be very long lived

Habit: Mat forming into large stands

Size: Low growing up to 2” tall

Habitat: Saxifraga means rock breaker, and true to its name the plant is often found in dry, rocky and inhospitable areas including exposed north facing cliffs, where it is often the only plant to be seen.  Has been found growing at extremely high altitudes.

Bloom Time: One of the earliest flowering plants in its alpine or arctic habitat. It blooms soon after the snow begins to melt; in the mountains (alpine) it blooms in April, in the arctic it blooms in June.  Bloom time is also dependent on orientation.

 

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