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Saxifraga cespitosa L.

Tufted alpine saxifrage, tufted saxifrage

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderRosalesRose family and eight others
FamilySaxifragaceaeSaxifrage family; means “stone-breaking”
GenusSaxifragaFrom Latin saxum, “a rock,” and frango, “to break,” because they appear to enlarge rock crevices from which they grow

About plant names...

Tufted alpine saxifrage ekes out a living on ledges and sandy or gravelly areas in alpine habitats.

Plants: Like many alpine species, plants are compact and densely tufted above ground, with short roots below ground. Plants may consist of single tufts or tussocks with many.

Leaves: Leaves are alternate, often dead or withered, ¼-½″ (8-15 mm) × ⅛-3/16″ (4-6 mm), covered with short white hairs tipped with red glands. They are green, red, or purple; and may also appear yellow or orange due to rust fungus (Melampsora epitea).

Flowers: Flowers are white (sometimes reddish or yellowish), with five symmetric sepals or petals, about ¼″ (6.3 mm) in diameter. A stem is 1¾-4″ (5-10 cm) in height, almost leafless, and may contain a single flower, or a cyme of 2-5. Each flower has ten stamens. Flowers appears from July-August.

Fruits: Two-parted capsules with many seeds.

Online References:



The USDA Plants Database


The Jepson Manual



Saxifraga cespitosa description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Saxifraga cespitosa (tufted alpine saxifrage, tufted saxifrage)

6/19/2019 · Westfjords Region, Iceland · By John W. Kent