The family Saxifragaceae consists of about about 30 genera and 580 species worldwide. Most members of the Saxifrage family are herbs, and usually have a flower cluster held well above the basal whorl of leaves. Many of its members grow in rocky places, whence the scientific name, which means 'stone-breaker'. Economically speaking, the family is important only for such ornamentals as Saxifraga, Heuchera, and Bergenia. The Saxifragaceae is primarily north temperate, although it does have representatives in the southern hemisphere. The leaves, which, as mentioned above, are primarily basal, are simple but palmately lobed or cleft. The flowers are radially symmetric, and have a distinct calyx and corolla of 5 (less frequently 4) separate petals and petals. There are generally twice as many stamens as petals, but there may be more. Pistils are usually divided into 2 (rarely 4). The ovaries may be fused only at the base, making it look as if there are two simple pistils, or they may be fused almost to the stigmas. The ovary can be either superior or inferior. The fruit is a capsule with a lot of seeds.
Guide to Identify Presented Species of the Saxifrage Family
FLOWERS WITH WHOLE PETALS AND 5 STAMENS
Heuchera Alumroot Glandular herbs, about 20-50 cm tall. Shaded, rocky sites, higher elevations.
Flowers creamy-white, bell-shaped, in dense, narrow clusters on tall stems.
Leaves basal, heart- to egg-shaped, 5-7-lobed, long-stalked.
Parnassia Grass-of-Parnassus Stems leafless or has 1 clasping leaf midstem. Wet sites at higher elevations.
Flowers white, 15-20 mm wide, solitary. Petals veined, stamens with glands.
Leaves basal, broadly heart- to kidney-shaped, glossy, stalked.
FLOWERS WITH WHOLE PETALS AND 10 STAMENS
Saxifraga Saxifrage Large genus with many species. Most are glandular, grow at higher elevations.
Flowers are usually white, some yellow or purple, growing in clusters.
Leaves are mostly basal, usually rounded and sometimes toothed.
Telesonix heucheriformis Alumroot Brookfoam Alpine plant, up to 20 cm tall. Rocky slopes, moist but well-drained soil.
Flowers pink, about 10 mm wide, in dense clusters. Calyx large, reddish.
Leaves basal, kidney-shaped, 2-5 cm broad and leathery, coarsely toothed.
FLOWERS WITH DEEPLY DIVIDED OR FRINGED PETALS
Lithophragma Woodland Star Glandular-hairy, 10-30 cm tall. Dry, rocky sites, foothills to montane.
Flowers white, grouped closely near top of stem. Petals are deeply 3-cleft.
Basal leaves 1-3 cm long, hairy, 5-lobed, long-stalked. Stem leaves smaller.
Mitella Mitrewort Slender plants, glandular or hairless. Moist mountain meadows and woods.
Flowers in tall, narrow spikes. Petals greenish, fringed into thread-like lobes.
Leaves basal, cordate, long-stalked, with 5-7 toothed, shallow lobes.
Alphabetical listing with links to presented species of the Saxifrage family: