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

Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage

Micranthes nidifica

Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea

Inflorescence of Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea)

The photo above shows the flowers of swamp saxifrage as seen in moist areas in the scablands near Odessa, WA.......April 28, 2007. Note the tiny petals which are smaller than the sepals.

Inflorescence of Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea) The photo at right shows a close-up of the flowers of swamp saxifrage, Fish Lake, Steens Mt.
Characteristics:

Swamp 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 rhombic-ovate to lance-elliptic in shape tapering fairly abruptly to the short to long petioles. The thick blade is usually 2-4 cm in length, but may occasionally reach as long as 6.5 cm. The width ranges from 1-3 cm wide but on occasion, may be as much as 4.5 cm. The leaf margins are usually entire, but occasionally may be lightly toothed. The margins, especially of the petioles, are often fairly densely 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 nidifica typically are less than 2 mm long and as long as or shorter 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.


Varieties of Swamp 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.


Similar Species:

Swamp saxifrage at one time was classified as a member of northwestern saxifrage (S. integrifolia), which consisted of 5 separate varieties. Currently, 4 of the varieties have been split from S. integrifolia. Varieties claytoniaefolia, columbiana and leptopetala are now accepted as varieties of S. nidifica. Var. apetala makes up its own species, as does var. integrifolia.

Petalless Saxifrage Saxifraga apetala (S. integrifolia var. apetala): Leaves entirely basal, rhombic-lanceolate in shape, narrowed gradually to the wide, ciliate-pilose petioles. The inflorescence is very congested and capitate. The petals are lacking or very much reduced, yellowish or greenish-white if present. Found east of the Cascade Mts. from Okanogan County south to Yakima County in Washington and in the Steens Mt. in southeastern Oregon.

Northwestern Saxifrage Saxifraga integrifolia var. integrifolia: Early spring wildflower to 18 inches tall. Leaves are basal, oval or elliptical in shape, with entire margins. The blades narrow gradually to the short petiole. The flowers are white and generally longer than the sepals. Common in moist banks and seepage slopes which dry out during the summer. Found mostly west of the Cascade Mts. but extending up the Columbia River to Wasco County in Oregon.


Habitat:

Swamp 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:

Swamp saxifrage may be found from the Blue and Wallowa Mts. of southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon south to the Steens Mt. of southeastern Oregon, and further south to northern Nevada and northeastern California. It may be found eastward to central and southwestern Idaho. Variety nidifica may be found from southeastern Oregon east to southwestern Idaho and south to northern Utah and northern Nevada.


Inflorescence of Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea)

A close-up of the inflorescence of swamp saxifrage (old variety leptopetala) as seen in moist meadows along forest service road #35 in the Wenatchee National Forest......June 5, 2009. Note the tiny petals (between the green calyx lobes and beneath the stamens at those locations) which are generally shorter than the calyx lobes as well as the orangish anthers.

Inflorescence of Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea) - Basal leaves of Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea) - Basal leaves of Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea)

Close-ups of the inflorescenceand basal leaves of swamp saxifrage as seen in moist areas in the scablands near Odessa, WA.........April 28, 2007. Note the numerous reddish gland-tipped hairs within the inflorescence.

Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea) - Inflorescence of Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea) - Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea)

Swamp saxifrage as seen on vernally moist serpentine slopes along the Canyon Mountain Trail #218, Strawberry Mountain Wilderness.........May 29, 2041.

Inflorescence of Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea) - Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea)

The photo above shows the inflorescence of swamp saxifrage as seen at Wilson Creek, a BLM site about 10 miles southwest of Wilbur, WA........April 30, 2007.

Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea) - Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea)

Swamp saxifrage as seen on vernally moist serpentine slopes along the Canyon Mountain Trail #218, Strawberry Mountain Wilderness.......June 21, 2011.


Inflorescence of Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea)) - Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea) - Basal leaves of Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea)

Close-ups of swamp saxifrage (old variety leptopetala) as seen in moist meadows along forest service road #35 in the Wenatchee National Forest.......June 5, 2009.

Flower of Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea) - Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea) - Basal leaves of Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea)

Additional photos of swamp saxifrage as seen in a riparian area on Baldy Mountain, Strawberry Mountain Wilderness.........July 2, 2010.

  Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea) - Inflorescence of Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea)

Basal leaves of Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea)

Nesting saxifrage as seen in a seep along the Hard Stone Trail, west bank of the John Day River, Cottonwood Canyon State Park.........March 19, 2017.

Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea) - Basal leaf of Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea)

Nesting saxifrage as seen in vernally moist swales in rocky scablands at the junction of FS Roads #42 and #3010 in southeastern Big Summit Prairie, Ochoco National Forest..........April 29, 2016.

Basal leaf of Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea)

The photo above shows a close-up of a basal leaf of swamp saxifrage.

Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea) - Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea)

Swamp saxifrage as seen at Fish Lake, Steens Mt..........June 26, 2000.

Basal leaf of Nesting Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes nidifica (Synonyms: Micranthes plantaginea, Saxifraga columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. columbiana, Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala, Saxifraga montana, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. nidifica, Saxifraga plantaginea)

The photo above shows the basal leaves of swamp saxifrage (formerly S. integrifolia var. columbiana) from FS Rd 24 southeast of Granite, OR, Wallowa-Whitman N.F......June 24, 1998.

Paul Slichter