[Saxifrages: The Genera Micranthes and Saxifraga East of the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington]

Brittle-leaved Saxifrage

Saxifraga fragosa

Synonyms: Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia

Brittle-leaved Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia) - Brittle-leaved Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia)

Brittle-leaved Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia)

Brittle-leaved saxifrage as seen in moist prairie at the eastern edge of Big Summit Prairie, Ochoco National Forest..........May 10, 2017.

Flowers of Brittle-leaved Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia) The photo at right shows a close-up of the flowers of brittle-leaved saxifrage, as seen along the lower Deschutes River near its mouth..........April 27, 1997.
Characteristics:

Brittle-leaved saxifrage is an attractive perennial wildflower with a single erect stem, from 15-25 cm high arising from a cluster of basal leaves. The stems lack leaves and are unbranched (except as part of the inflorescence). The stems and leaves are sparsely to densely covered with white to pink spreading hairs tipped with pink to purple, sticky glands. The leaves are ovate, deltoid, or broadly lanceolate in shape tapering abruptly to the long petioles (often as long as the blade). The thick blade is usually 2-4 cm in length, but may occasionally reach as long as 12 cm. The width ranges from 1-3 cm wide but on occasion, may be as much as 6 cm. The leaf margins are usually entire, but occasionally may be lightly toothed. The margins may be weakly ciliate.

The inflorescence is a cymose-panicle of 25-50 flowers and ranges from 0.5-8 cm long. The inflorescence ranges from fairly congested to fairly open, with 5-9 ascending to spreading lateral branches. The lowest bract of the inflorescence subtends the lowest branch and is up to 2.5 cm long. The pedicels are 0.5-2.5 mm long and are usually glandular-pubescent with red or purple glands. The calyx is shallowly cup-shaped with 5 glabrous, spreading to reflexed sepals, each triangular-ovate in shape with rounded tips. The 5 petals may be white, yellowish, or greenish-white in color and range from 0.7-2.3 mm long and 0.6-1.8 mm wide. The petals of variety claytoniifolia typically are greater than 2 mm long and usually longer than the sepals. They range from linear, elliptic, ovate, or obovate in shape. The 10 stamens are up to 0.6 mm long, each opposite a petal or sepal.


Former Varieties of Swamp (Brittle-leaved) Saxifrage:

var. claytoniifolia (S. integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia): The leaves are all basal, the blades broad and abruptly narrowed to the petiole (which is often as long as the blade), the margins generally entire. The petals are white and generally longer than the sepals. Found east of the Cascade Mts. from Okanogan County in Washington south to southern Oregon and east to southeastern Washington, northeastern Oregon, and western Idaho. Also found west in the Columbia River Gorge to the Willamette Valley of northwestern Oregon.

var. nidifica (S. integrifolia var. columbiana & var. leptopetala): Leaves all basal with entire margins, the blades rhombic-ovate in shape, narrowed to slender, weakly ciliate or glabrous petioles. . Inflorescence is a cyme with 3-9 branches. The petals are white to greenish-white, up to 2 mm long, and generally shorter than the sepals. Found in the Blue and Wallowa Mts of northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington, central and southwestern Idaho, and south through southeastern Oregon to northern Nevada and northeastern California.


Habitat:

Brittle-leaved saxifrage may be found in moist meadows and gravelly slopes in the subalpine and alpine zone in the mountains. It may be found between the elevations of 670-3200 meters.


Range:

Brittle-leaved saxifrage may be found east of the Cascade Mts. from Okanogan County in Washington south to southern Oregon and east to southeastern Washington, northeastern Oregon, and western Idaho. Also found west in the Columbia River Gorge to the Willamette Valley of northwestern Oregon.


Basal leaves of Brittle-leaved Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia)
The photo above shows a close-up of the basal leaves of brittle-leaved saxifrage from the lower Deschutes River, OR....3/22/97. Note the broad leaf blade which is deltoid or triangular in shape and it tapers abruptly to the petiole.

Brittle-leaved Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia)

Brittle-leaved saxifrage as seen at Catherine Creek in the Columbia River Gorge..........June 26, 2000.

Paul Slichter