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Saxifraga oppositifolia (*)

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Ordo: Saxifragales

Familia: Saxifragaceae
Genus: Saxifraga
Subgenus: S. subg. Saxifraga
Sectio: S. sect. Porphyrion
Subsectio: S. subsect. Oppositifoliae
Series: S. ser. Oppositifoliae
Species: Saxifraga oppositifolia
Subspecies: S. o. subsp. glandulisepala – S. o. subsp. oppositifolia – S. o. subsp. smalliana

Saxifraga oppositifolia L.

Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum. Tomus I: 402. Reference page.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Saxifraga oppositifolia in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Accessed: 07-Oct-06.
Saxifraga oppositifolia – Taxon details on Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).

Vernacular names
dansk: Purpur-Stenbræk
Deutsch: Gegenblättriger Steinbrech
English: purple saxifrage, purple mountain saxifrage
suomi: Sinirikko
français: Saxifrage à feuilles opposées
hornjoserbsce: Pisany rupik
íslenska: Vetrarblóm
ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ/inuktitut: ᐊᐅᐸᓗᒃᑐᙳᐊᑦ, Aupaluktunnguat
norsk nynorsk: Raudsildre
norsk: Rødsildre
polski: Skalnica naprzeciwlistna
русский: Камнеломка супротивнолистная
davvisámegiella: Alitnárti
svenska: Purpurbräcka
українська: Ломикамінь супротивнолистий

Saxifraga oppositifolia, the purple saxifrage or purple mountain saxifrage,[1] is a species of plant that is very common in the high Arctic and also some high mountainous areas further south, including northern Britain, the Alps and the Rocky Mountains.


It is a low-growing, densely or loosely matted plant growing up to 5 cm (2.0 in) high, with somewhat woody branches of creeping or trailing habit close to the surface. The leaves are small, rounded, scale-like, opposite in four rows with ciliated margins. The flowers are solitary on short stalks, petals purple or lilac, much longer than the calyx lobes. It is one of the first spring flowers, continuing to flower during the whole summer in localities where the snow melts later. The flowers grow to about 13 mm (0.5 in) in diameter.

It grows in all kinds of cold temperate to Arctic habitats, usually found from sea level up to 1,000 m (3,300 ft), in many places colouring the landscape. Its native habitats include tundra, arctic coastal bluffs, alpine scree, and rock crevices.[2]

Swiss botanist Christian Körner found the plant growing at an elevation of 4,505 m (14,780 ft) in the Swiss alps, making it the highest elevation angiosperm in Europe.[3] It is even known to grow on Kaffeklubben Island in north Greenland,[4] at 83°N 40°E, the most northerly plant locality in the world.
Species interactions

The flowers of this plant may be consumed by certain animal species, such as the caterpillars of the cold-adapted Gynaephora groenlandica, the Arctic woolly-bear caterpillar.[5]

It is a popular plant in alpine gardens, though difficult to grow in warm climates.

The edible flower petals are eaten, particularly in parts of Nunavut without abundant berries. They are bitter at first but, after about one second, they become sweet. (They are also slightly sticky.) It is known to the Inuit as aupilaktunnguat. The leaves and stems are brewed for herbal tea: According to many Nunavummiut, the tea is best later in the season once the flowers have died.[6]

It serves as the territorial flower of Nunavut in Canada,[6] a symbolic flower of Nordland county in Norway, and the county flower of County Londonderry in Northern Ireland.

There are a few subspecies, including:

Saxifraga oppositifolia ssp. glandulisepala Hultén – native to Alaska[7]
Saxifraga oppositifolia ssp. oppositifolia L. – native to continental US[8]
Saxifraga oppositifolia ssp. smalliana (Engl. & Irmsch.) Hultén – native to Alaska[9]


"ITIS Standard Report Page: Saxifraga oppositifolia". 10 April 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
"Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin". Retrieved 19 November 2021.
Körner, Christian (2011). "Coldest places on earth with angiosperm plant life". Alpine Botany. 121 (1): 11–22. doi:10.1007/s00035-011-0089-1. S2CID 22796093.
"Template". Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
Kukal, Olga; Dawson, Todd E. (1989-06-01). "Temperature and food quality influences feeding behavior, assimilation efficiency and growth rate of arctic woolly-bear caterpillars". Oecologia. 79 (4): 526–532. doi:10.1007/BF00378671. ISSN 0029-8549.
Official Flower of Nunavut, Nunavut, Canada
"ITIS Standard Report Page: Saxifraga oppositifolia ssp. glandulisepala". 10 April 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
"ITIS Standard Report Page: Saxifraga oppositifolia ssp. oppositifolia". 10 April 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
"ITIS Standard Report Page: Saxifraga oppositifolia ssp. smalliana". 10 April 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013.

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