Queen of saxifrages... Saxifraga oppositifolia

Submitted by Kelaidis on Thu, 02/18/2010 - 06:41

I couldn't resist filling up all the posts on the genus and species Discussions: they were looking so bereft! And if one is to post a saxifrage, surely Saxifraga oppositifolia is the one: I am ashamed to say I am not currently growing this, although I have grown it superbly in Boulder and at the Gardens for decades on end (I once had a mat almost a square yard in extent!). This is a picture I took last July 8 (I think) on a high ridge far above Almaty in Kazakhstan on what may have been the most plant-packed day of my life (excepting, perhaps, a few days in the Andes or South Africa): never have I seen more choice new alpines than with Vladimir Kolbintsev, that most magnificent man and superb tour leader. This grew in vast mats on the rocks, near Thallycospermum, Paraquilegia microphylla, Cystocorydalis fedtschenkoi and Primula xanthobasis to drop a few names...None of the flowers on oppositifolia were widely open: although it was a chilly slightly cloudy day (it hailed)...perhaps a distinct variety?


Submitted by Hoy on Thu, 02/18/2010 - 12:40

I envy you your trip to Kazakhstan!
This S. oppositifolia is very different from those I know from here.

Submitted by Boland on Thu, 02/18/2010 - 16:36

The flowers are certainly not as open as those here...perhaps they simply were not fully open(?).  Our native form is more difficult in cultivation than European forms but we have one surviving in our new crevice garden...maybe after the 4 feet of snow melts this spring, it will grace me for another year!

Submitted by Lori S. on Thu, 02/18/2010 - 19:29

It does not seem so terribly different from this one though... although perhaps this one from Kananaskis Prov. Park, Alberta, was not open fully?  (The date was July 25th - quite late for these here, so you'd expect it to be fully open!) 
I do have to admit I rarely see this species in bloom - I guess we need to start hiking earlier (and perhaps reconcile ourselves to slogging through forest trails that are still snow-covered  :P) or get up to higher elevations!

Submitted by McGregorUS on Sat, 02/20/2010 - 04:28

Couldn't resist posting these images of Sax oppositifolia in England on Pen-y-ghent (3 April 2008). I think they are about the best I've seen in the wild. Plants there are quite varied - many are much paler than this. Hope someone might post pics of some of the north Norwegian forms which are quite lovely.