[Saxifrages: The Genera Micranthes and Saxifraga in the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington]

Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage

Micranthes fragosa

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

Close-up of the inflorescence of Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia (Synonyms: Micranthes fragosa, Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica)

The photo above shows a close-up of the flowers of peak saxifrage as seen in moist soils along the lower sections of The Dalles Mt. Road to the north of The Dalles, OR............March 17, 2007. The inflorescence begins very tight, but with age, some individuals can be widely branched.

Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia (Synonyms: Micranthes fragosa, Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica) The similar Saxifraga integrifolia var. integrifolia from Catherine Creek, Major Creek Plateau, Columbia River Gorge, Washington.........March 30, 1991.
Characteristics:

Northwestern saxifrage is a perennial with a single erect stem, from 10-30 cm high arising from a cluster of basal leaves. The stems lack leaves and are unbranched (except as part of the inflorescence). The leaves are variable according to the variety, but are generally have elliptic, lanceolate, rhombic-ovate or triangular blades with short to long petioles The thick blade is usually 2-4 cm in length, but may occasionally reach as long as 12 cm. The width ranges from 1-2 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 inflorescence is a cymose-panicle. The 5 petals may be white, yellowish, or greenish-white, or they may be absent. They range from 2-3 mm long and ovate, elliptic, or obovate in shape..


Varieties (Several of these have recently become individual species. Nomenclature updates are from the USDA Plants Website: March/11/2006):

var. integrifolia (Now S. integrifolia) - Petals are white, 1.5-3 mm long, ovate to obovate in shape. Leaf blades narrowly rhombic to ovate-lanceolate, narrowed gradually to broad petioles equal to or usually shorter than the blades. Found west of the Cascades from British Columbia south to Lincoln County OR, and east along the Columbia River Gorge to Wasco County, OR.

variety claytoniaefolia (Now S. nidifica var. claytoniifolia) - Petals are white, 1.5-3 mm long, ovate to obovate in shape. Leaves broadly deltoid to ovate or lanceolate, narrowed abruptly to thin petioles often as long or longer than the blades (See photo at tope of page.) . The leaf surfaces are usually smooth. Found east of the Cascade Mts. in Washington and Oregon from Okanogan County south to south-central Oregon, and down the Columbia River Gorge to the Willamette Valley. To the east, it may be found in southeastern Washington, northeastern Oregon, and western Idaho.

variety apetala (Now S. apetala) - Flowers have no petals. Inflorescence is tightly packed into a dense cluster. No lower branches of the inflorescence are visible on the stem. Anthers yellow. The leaves are rhombic-lanceolate, narrowing gradually to wide petioles that are shorter than the blades. Found east of the Cascade Mts. in Washington from Okanogan County to Yakima County.

variety leptopetala (Now S. nidifica var. nidifica) - The flowers are yellowish or greenish-white, often with purple or pink coloration. Petals 1-2.5 mm long, spatulate or oblanceolate in shape, 2.5-3.5 times longer than wide. The inflorescence is open, the lower branches of the inflorescence are 1-2 cm apart. Anthers orange. The leaves are rhombic-lanceolate, narrowing gradually to wide petioles that are shorter than the blades. Found from southern British Columbia south along the east side of the Cascades to northern Oregon. It may be found west into the Columbia River Gorge and to the east into eastern Washington, western Idaho, and possibly as far east as western Montana.

variety columbiana (Now S. nidifica var. nidifica) - The flowers are yellowish or greenish-white, often with purple or pink coloration. Petals 1-2.5 mm long, spatulate or oblanceolate in shape, 2.5-3.5 times longer than wide. Leaves mostly rhombic-ovate, narrowed gradually to thin petioles up to as long as the blade (See photo below.). Found in the Blue and Wallowa mountains of southeast Washington and northeastern Oregon, central and southwestern Idaho, northern Nevada, and northeastern California.


Habitat:

Northwestern saxifrage may be found on prairies, grassy slopes, and meadows which are seasonally moist in the spring but dry in the summer.


Range:

Northwestern saxifrage may be found from British Columbia south to California and east to central Idaho and Nevada.

In the Columbia River Gorge, it may be found between the elevations of 100'-3400' from near Crown Point in the west to the eastern portion of the Gorge.


Close-up sideview of the inflorescence of Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia (Synonyms: Micranthes fragosa, Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica) - Close-up of the flowers of Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia (Synonyms: Micranthes fragosa, Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica)

Close-up sideviews of the inflorescence and of a flower cluster of peak saxifrage as seen in moist soils along the lower sections of The Dalles Mt. Road to the north of The Dalles, OR..........March 17, 2007. The inflorescence begins very tight, but with age, some individuals can be widely branched. Note the numerous reddish, gland-tipped hairs along the stem.

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

Peak saxifrage as seen along Eight Mile Creek between Washington Highway SR14 and The Dalles Mt. Road in the Columbia Hills State Park.........May 7, 2011.

Close-up of a deltate leaf of Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia (Synonyms: Micranthes fragosa, Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica) - Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia)

The photo at left shows a close-up of a leaf of peak saxifrage as seen in moist soils along the lower sections of The Dalles Mt. Road to the north of The Dalles, OR..........March 17, 2007. The photo at right shows the basal leaves of peak saxifrage as seen along the Haul Road on the west bank of the Klickitat River about two miles upstream from the Twin Bridges crossing of the Klickitat River on Highway 142.........November 12, 2016.

Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia) - Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia) - Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia) - Inflorescence of Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia)

Peak saxifrage as seen in a vernally moist swale on the south side of Marsh Hill east of Mosier, Oregon.........March 27, 2015.

Close-up of the inflorescence of Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia (Synonyms: Micranthes fragosa, Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica)

The photo above shows a close-up view of the opening inflorescence of northwestern saxifrage as seen along the Three Bench Loop Trail above Doug's Beach (east of Lyle, WA) in the Columbia River Gorge...........February 12, 2006. Note the numerous reddish, gland-tipped hairs on the upper scape and within the inflorescence.

Close-up of a deltate leaf of Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia (Synonyms: Micranthes fragosa, Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica) - Close-up of a leaf of Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia (Synonyms: Micranthes fragosa, Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica)

Basal leaves of peak saxifrage as seen from the eastern ascent of the 3 Bench Loop above Doug's Beach, WA State Road #14, MP 79..........March 11, 2006. This is the former variety claytoniaefolia, as the glabrous leaf blade is deltoid or triangular in shape and it tapers abruptly to the thick petiole.

Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia) - Basal leaves and lower stem of Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia)

Peak saxifrage as seen beginning to bloom in a vernally moist swale about 200 meters uphill from the Crawford Oaks trailhead at Columbia Hills State Park.........March 3, 2015.

Basal leaves of Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia) - Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia) - Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia)

Peak saxifrage as seen on open slopes beneath powerlines along the Starvation Creek Ridge Trail #414, Columbia River Gorge.........April 26, 2015.

Basal leaves of Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia) - Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia)

Basal leaves of peak saxifrage (left) as seen from the Columbia Hills Natural Area Preserve.............January 19, 2015. The photo at right possibly shows peak saxifrage as seen along the Wygant Trail just east of Perham Creek, Wygant State Natural Area..........March 29, 2015.

Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia) - Basal leaves of Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia) - Inflorescence of Brittle-leaved Saxifrage, Fleshy-leaved Saxifrage, Peak Saxifrage, Swamp Saxifrage: Micranthes fragosa (Synonyms: Saxifraga claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga fragosa ssp. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga fragosa var. fragosa, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniaefolia, Saxifraga integrifolia var. claytoniifolia, Saxifraga nidifica, Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia)

Peak saxifrage as seen in vernally moist grassy areas at the Carson Camas Patch, Carson, WA.........April 29, 2017.

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

Peak saxifrage blooming on open, vernally moist slopes east of Eightmile Creek and above the Crawford Oaks Trailhead, Columbia Hills State Park.........February 23, 2016.

Paul Slichter