[The Saxifrages of the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington]

Merten's Saxifrage, Wood Saxifrage, Woodland Saxifrage

Saxifraga mertensiana

Synonym: Saxifraga mertensiana var. eastwoodiae

Merten's Saxifrage, Wood Saxifrage, Woodland Saxifrage: Saxifraga mertensiana (Synonym: Saxifraga mertensiana var. eastwoodiae)

Merten's saxifrage on moist slopes east of Rowena Overlook, between Mosier and The Dalles, OR.......April 5, 1997.

Basal leaf of Merten's Saxifrage, Wood Saxifrage, Woodland Saxifrage: Saxifraga mertensiana (Synonym: Saxifraga mertensiana var. eastwoodiae) Leaf of Merten's saxifrage on moist slopes east of Rowena Overlook, between Mosier and The Dalles, OR....April 5, 1997. Note the broad teeth or lobes that are further divided into smaller (although fairly large) teeth.
Characteristics:

Merten's saxifrage is a perennial with flowering stems arising 15-40 cm high above 1-3 basal leaves which sit atop short thick rhizomes. The herbage is smooth to having long, soft, spreading hairs or glands on the stem. The succulent leaves are large and round with large teeth on the margins (See photo at right.) The hairy leaf stems are 1-4 times longer than the blades which are 3-10 cm wide and nearly as long.

The inflorescence is an open cyme or panicle, with many flowers. Some of the flowers may be replaced by pink bulblets. The 5 petals are white, oblong-elliptic to obovate in shape, narrowing quickly to a clawless or short-clawed base. The petals are each about 3-5 mm long. The calyx is cleft nearly to the base, with each of the 5 lanceolate to lanceolate-oblong lobes reflexed outwards. The stamens are roughly equal in length to the petals with pink anthers.


Habitat:

Merten's saxifrage may be found on wet shady cliffs or along streams.


Range:

Merten's saxifrage may be found from southern Alaska south between the coast and the Cascade crest to the central Sierra Nevada of California. In British Columbia, it extends eastward to northwest Montana and south through central Idaho to northeastern Oregon.

In the Columbia River Gorge, it may be found primarily on the Oregon side of the river between the elevations of 100'-4000' from west of Crown Point to as far east as Mayer State Park.


Flower of Merten's Saxifrage, Wood Saxifrage, Woodland Saxifrage: Saxifraga mertensiana (Synonym: Saxifraga mertensiana var. eastwoodiae)

The photo above shows a close-up of the flower of Merten's saxifrage. Note the narrowly ovate petals that taper gradually to a pointed tip and the base of the petal that tapers abruptly to a claw. Unlike brook saxifrage, the petals are rarrower and all roughly the same size and shape. The 10 stamens have club-shaped filaments about as long as the petals.

Merten's Saxifrage, Wood Saxifrage, Woodland Saxifrage: Saxifraga mertensiana (Synonym: Saxifraga mertensiana var. eastwoodiae) - Merten's Saxifrage, Wood Saxifrage, Woodland Saxifrage: Saxifraga mertensiana (Synonym: Saxifraga mertensiana var. eastwoodiae)

Merten's saxifrage blooming (left) along Rowena Creek in Rowena Dell, Columbia River Gorge.........April 5, 2014. The photo at right shows the basal leaves of merten's saxifrage as seen along the Haul Road along the west bank of the Klickitat River about two miles upstream of WA Highway 142 at theTwin Bridges.......November 11, 2016.

Bulbils of Merten's Saxifrage, Wood Saxifrage, Woodland Saxifrage: Saxifraga mertensiana (Synonym: Saxifraga mertensiana var. eastwoodiae)

The photo above shows a close-up of the leaves and inflorescence of Merten's saxifrage as seen on the McCord Creek Trail in the western Columbia River Gorge...........May 2005. On this particular plant, the flowers have been replaced by numerous pinkish bulbils which can propagate vegetatively.

Merten's Saxifrage, Wood Saxifrage, Woodland Saxifrage: Saxifraga mertensiana (Synonym: Saxifraga mertensiana var. eastwoodiae)

Merten's saxifrage as seen on moist cuts in the trail to the upper falls at McCord Creek, Columbia River Gorge..........April 22, 2015.

Basal leaf of Merten's Saxifrage, Wood Saxifrage, Woodland Saxifrage: Saxifraga mertensiana (Synonym: Saxifraga mertensiana var. eastwoodiae)

A late season leaf of merten's saxifrage as seen along the Wahclella Falls Trail, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area..........October 15, 2012.

Merten's Saxifrage, Wood Saxifrage, Woodland Saxifrage: Saxifraga mertensiana (Synonym: Saxifraga mertensiana var. eastwoodiae)

Leaves of merten's saxifrage as seen at a bench above Interstate 84 about one-half mile west of the Twin Tunnels, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.........April 3, 2015.

Merten's Saxifrage, Wood Saxifrage, Woodland Saxifrage: Saxifraga mertensiana (Synonym: Saxifraga mertensiana var. eastwoodiae)

Merten's saxifrage on moist slopes east of Rowena Overlook, between Mosier and The Dalles, OR....April 5, 1997.

Paul Slichter