eastern swamp saxifrage

(Micranthes pensylvanica)

Conservation Status
eastern swamp saxifrage
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

FACW - Facultative wetland

     
  Midwest

OBL - Obligate wetland

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

OBL - Obligate wetland

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Eastern swamp saxifrage is a 12 to 36 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on a rosette of basal leaves and a single flowering stalk from a caudex and fleshy, translucent roots.

The leaves are all basal and form a rosette. They are leathery, sparsely hairy, and spoon-shaped or lance-shaped. The larger ones are 4 to 8 long, and 1½ to 3 wide. They taper at the base to a short, broad, reddish-purple leaf stalk and taper to a point or are rounded at the tip. Young leaves are hairy. The upper surface of mature leaves is medium green and hairless or sparsely hairy. The lower surface is paler green and hairy or sparsely hairy. The margins have shallow, rounded teeth.

The flowering stalk (scape) is erect, stout, unbranched, round in cross section, finely grooved, leafless, and densely covered with spreading, sticky hairs.

The inflorescence is a pyramidal, branched cluster (panicle) of convex flower clusters (cymes) at the end of the scape. It is compact and dense at first, becoming loose and elongating as it matures, ultimately 6 to 18 long and 2 to 6 wide. The branches of the panicle are ascending to spreading and are subtended by a single linear, leaf-like bract.

The flowers are to ¼ wide. The 5 petals are white or greenish-white, narrow, 1 16 to long, spreading, with 1 or 3 veins. There are 5 green sepals that are about the same length as the petals and are joined at the base. The sepals are bent backward when the flowers are fully expanded. There are 10 stamens with white to orangish-brown anthers. At the center of the flower is a large, pale green, cone-shaped hypanthium.

The fruit is a pair of erect, beaked follicles with many seeds.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

12 to 36

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

White or greenish-white

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
 

Early saxifrage (Micranthes virginiensis) is a much smaller plant, 4 tall at first flowering to 16 at maturity. The leaves are much smaller, ¾ to 2 long. The leaf margins are coarsely toothed. The sepals are spreading or ascending, not bent backward. The flowers are larger. The petals are to ¼ long. In Minnesota it is found only in the northeast corner and in Lake of the Woods County.

Edible valerian (Valeriana edulis var. ciliata) has leafy flowering stems.

Fen grass of Parnassus (Parnassia glauca) has a slender, hairless scape. The inflorescence is a solitary flower at the end of the scape. The flowers are much larger, up to 1 wide. The petals are white with many greenish veins. There are only 5 stamens.

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Wet to moderate moisture. Meadows, woods, bogs.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

May to June

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28.

 
  1/12/2012      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Uncommon

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (dicots)  
  Subclass Rosidae  
  Superorder Saxifraganae  
 

Order

Saxifragales (saxifrages, stonecrops, and allies)  
 

Family

Saxifragaceae (saxifrage)  
  Genus Micranthes (alpine saxifrage)  
  Section Micranthes  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Saxifraga forbesii

Saxifraga pensylvanica

Saxifraga pensylvanica var. forbesii

Saxifraga pensylvanica ssp. interior

Saxifraga pensylvanica var. purpuripetala

Saxifraga pensylvanica ssp. tenuirostrata

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

eastern swamp saxifrage

Forbe’s saxifrage

swamp saxifrage

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Beak

A comparatively short and stout, narrow or prolonged tip on a thickened organ, as on some fruits and seeds.

 

Bract

Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.

 

Caudex

A short, thickened, woody, persistent enlargement of the stem, at or below ground level, used for water storage.

 

Cyme

A branched, flat-topped or convex flower cluster in which the terminal flower opens first and the outermost flowers open last.

 

Follicle

A dry fruit formed from a single carpel, containing many seeds, that opens at maturity along the seed-bearing seam.

 

Hypanthium

A cup-like tubular structure of a flower formed from the fused bases of sepals, petals, and stamens, that surrounds the pistil. Its presence is diagnostic of many families, including Rose, Gooseberry, and Pea.

 

Linear

Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.

 

Panicle

A pyramidal inflorescence with a main stem and branches. Flowers on the lower, longer branches mature earlier than those on the shorter, upper ones.

 

Scape

An erect, leafless stalk growing from the rootstock and supporting a flower or a flower cluster.

 

Sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

       
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Plant

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Basal rosette

  eastern swamp saxifrage    
       

Leaves

  eastern swamp saxifrage   eastern swamp saxifrage
       

Inflorescence

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Flowers

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