Page authors: David Giblin, Don Knoke
Saxifraga hyperborea
pygmy saxifrage

Distribution: In the Olympic and Cascade mountains of Washington; Alaska south to California, throughout the Rocky Mountains, across northern Canada to the Maritime Provinces.

Habitat: Alpine tundra, often where moist with rocky outcroppings, crevices, and snowmelt.

Flowers: June-August

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Sensitive in Washington (WANHP)

Pollination: Apomixis, bees, flies


Tufted perennial, forming patches up to 8 cm. broad, glandular-pubescent to occasionally glabrous, the flowering stems several, leafy, 1-10 cm. tall.


Leaves mostly basal, often bulbiferous, the petioles slender, with soft, brownish hairs, the blades reniform, 5-15 mm. broad, coarsely and shallowly 3-5 lobed; cauline leaves 1-3, similar to the basal or entire.


Flowers 1-2, terminal on the stem; calyx bell-shaped, 2.5-3.5 mm. long, purplish, the 5 lobes erect, ovate-oblong, rounded, as long or longer than the lower tubular portion; petals 5, white with pinkish veins, narrowly oblong, 2-3 times as long as the sepals, rounded at the base and not clawed; stamens 10, equaling the sepals, the filaments slender; ovary half inferior, the superior portion of the carpes free half their length; stigmas sessile.


Capsule 4-6 mm. long.

Accepted Name:
Saxifraga hyperborea R. Br.
Publication: Chlor. Melvill. 16. 1823. 1823.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Saxifraga debilis Engelm. ex A. Gray, misapplied [FNA8, HC]
Saxifraga flexuosa Sternb.
Saxifraga rivularis L., misapplied [FNA8, KZ99, WNHP]
Saxifraga rivularis L. ssp. hyperborea (R. Br.) Dorn
Saxifraga rivularis L. var. flexuosa (Sternb.) Engl. & Irmscher
Saxifraga rivularis L. var. hyperborea (R. Br.) Hook.
Saxifraga rivularis L. var. purpurascens Lange
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Saxifraga hyperborea in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database

WA Flora Checklist: Saxifraga hyperborea checklist entry

OregonFlora: Saxifraga hyperborea information

E-Flora BC: Saxifraga hyperborea atlas page

CalPhotos: Saxifraga hyperborea photos

9 photographs:
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