Mystery silver

Submitted by Kelaidis on

Aside from the many forms of Saxifraga paniculata, this terrific silver is the longest lived and showiest silver saxifrage in my garden. I have seen it sold as S. 'Macnabiana' and S. hostii: it looks like a sort of upright lingulata type to my eyes...does anyone have this form growing and have an accurate name for it?


Submitted by Kelaidis on Fri, 02/19/2010 - 09:39

Accidentally posted before adding goes!

Submitted by Hoy on Fri, 02/19/2010 - 10:01

We have two wild forms of paniculata here in Norway, I have seen only one of them and it is shorter and "sturdier" if I can put it that way, with fewer flowers in the panicle. Your plant looks more like the S. cotyledon forms I have seen wild here.

Submitted by Boland on Fri, 02/19/2010 - 17:35

I've tried hostii from seed several times and they always ended up paniculata....I have lots of encrusted but none with leaves that long on what look to be paniculata-sized rosettes (seem too small for cotyledon, at least they are compared to my cotyledons).  Don't you need a magnifying glass to distinguish hostii from paniculata?

Submitted by McGregorUS on Sat, 02/20/2010 - 04:53

The most obvious characteristic of Sax hostii when its in flower is that the flowers tend to be very much at the top of the flower stem - which makes it very different from Sax. cotyledon where the inflorescence is much more pyramidal. The rosettes can vary quite a lot, sometimes with very long leaves, some with much shorter but the inflorescence is pretty standard. These pics are from the Italian Alps driving up to the Dolomites and some of the plants here had flower stems 30 inches long - impressive plants. These are S. hostii subsp. hostii. The last pic is of the much smaller and more restricted subsp. rhaetica - this one is probably only about 10 inches tall.

As far as seed is concerned the problem is that S. hostii is relatively rare in cultivation despite the fact that its very good and flowers well in normal soils. Trouble is its usually poor in a pot and so doesn't tend to be stocked by nurseries. I grow some few wild collected plants of S. hostii and I'll try and remember to collect seed and put it in next year's seed exchange.

Submitted by Kelaidis on Sat, 02/20/2010 - 05:04

What great pix, Malcolm! I think my mystery plant is definitely of hostii parentage (the inflorescence is tapered towards the top!) and may even be a hostii selection. I suspect somewhere in my library there may be an elucidation on "Macnabiana": if it is a hostii hybrid, perhaps that's what I have. Or maybe just a hostii selection: the leaves seem to be right, although seemingly a bit more silvery.

I shall seek out more hostii in the future! I love the silvers and they seem to love us...

Submitted by McGregorUS on Sat, 02/20/2010 - 05:14

Glad you like it Panayoti - are you still up or have you got up very early?

Sax 'Macnabiana' was originally probably a cross of S. callosa which has a fairly capitate head of flowers usually and S. cotyledon which has a pyramidal stem of flowers. Difficult to find a plant which matches the original description but you plant will not be far away from that.

This pic shows you a close-up of the leaves so that you can see what the teeth look like.