Tufted saxifrage (var. emarginata) from rocky slopes atop Hurricane Hill in Olympic National Park.........July 25, 2008.
Tufted saxifrage is a small, mat-forming perennial with several erect stems from 3-15 cm in height. The herbage is glandular-hairy. The basal leaves are rigid and scalelike with the blades often very hairy and divided at the tip into 3 terminal lobes. The 2-5 leaves on the flower stems are found below the inflorescence. The lower ones are tipped with 3 lobes while the upper ones may be entire.
The 2-10 flowers are in a loose cyme at the top of the stems. The calyx is 2.5-5.5 mm long and broadly bell-shaped with spreading triangular, ovate, or oblong-lanceolate lobes. The 5 white petals are 5-12 mm long or 2-4 times longer than the calyx lobes. The petals are obovate to oblanceolate in shape, with blunt to rounded tips. The stamens are up to twice as long as the calyx lobes.
Variety emarginata- The leaves have short to long cilia and are rarely covered with long, straight, soft spreading hairs. The leaves are spiralled and tighlty compacted on sterile shoots. Found at higher elevations in the Olympic Mts and Cascades from central British Columbia south to Mt. Rainier.
Variety subgemmifera- The leaves are often covered with long, straight, soft spreading hairs. The plants sprawl and branch diffusely and the lower stem leaves often contain buds in the axils. Found in the Columbia River Gorge, Saddle Mt in the Oregon Coast Range, Olympic Mts., and along the coast from Island County, WA south to Lincoln County, OR.
Tufted saxifrage may be found on cliffs, rocky slopes, and in rock crevices from sea level to the arctic-alpine zones.
Tufted saxifrage may be found from Alaska south to the Cascade and Olympic Mts., the Columbia River Gorge, and in northwestern Oregon. It may be found eastward to the Rocky Mts where it is found in Montana, central Idaho, Utah, northeastern Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona.
Three views of Saxifraga caespitosa var. subgemmifera from Saddle Mt. State Park in the Coast Range of western Oregon.........June 15, 1996.