Leatherleaf Saxifrage – Leptarrhena pyrolifolia

Saxifrage Family – Saxifragaceae

Actual flower size: 1/4 inch across

Actual flower size: 1/4 inch across

Plant Description: Leatherleaf Saxifrage is a perennial with a 6 to 16 inches tall, red flowering stem which is unbranched and glandular hairy. It has 1 or 2 small stem leaves and a dense cluster of tiny flowers at the top.  At the base is a mat of mostly basal, 1 to 4 inch, oval to oblong leathery, clasping leaves which are glossy, rough and deeply veined on top and whitish beneath with rounded teeth. The plants grow close together so there are often many flowering stems in a small area.

Flower Description: The flowers are 1/4 inch across and have a red calyx, 5 slender white petals, and 10 stamens which are longer than the petals. The ovary turns red upon pollination and the striking, purplish red seed capsules persist making the plants stand out long after blooming.

Ecology: Leatherleaf Saxifrage is widespread in alpine and subalpine elevations, growing in damp meadows and seeps and along stream banks.

Note: Although it has “Saxifrage” in its name Leatherleaf Saxifrage has been not in the Saxifrage genus for many years.