Saxifragaceae: Saxifrage  Family

Brook Foam – Boykinia occidentalis

Blooms:

Apr–July

Plant Height:

15–60 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Shady wet streambanks

Notes:

Aptly named, this is found by streams or on the faces of waterfalls.  It has distinctive indented, round to ovate leaves.  The diminutive 5-petaled flowers are white and bell-like, in small open clusters.  Peduncles are slender, erect, long and branching with minute, brown, gland-tipped hairs.

Alum Root / Small-flowered Alum Root – Heuchera micrantha

Blooms:

Apr–July

Plant Height:

10–100 cm

Flower Size:

Very small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Moist rocky banks

Notes:

This is easily recognized by its distinctive, deeply 5–7-lobed leaves with prominent reddish dark veins.  It has a tall slender stem, with lateral peduncles bearing many tiny flowers.  The white and pinkish flowers have a tapering, slightly hairy hypanthium.

Seaside Alum Root – Heuchera pilosissima

Blooms:

May–June

Plant Height:

15–55 cm

Flower Size:

Very small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Rocky shady places near coast

Notes:

A much smaller plant than Small-flowered Alum Root (Heuchera micrantha, see above) and with a generally more compact appearance.  The flowers are noticeably different; these are in denser clusters, have less exserted stamens, and are rounder and densely hairy.  Calyx lobes are pink to red.

Woodland Star – Lithophragma affine

Blooms:

Mar–Apr

Plant Height:

10–60 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Open grassy slopes

Notes:

This and Hill Star (Lithophragma heterophyllum, see below) are two equally beautiful early spring bloomers with similar pure white flowers and growth habits. The slender, many-flowered stems may be either green or reddish.  The two species are readily distinguished by their hypanthium (flower base).  Woodland Star has an obconic, tapered hypanthium.  Hill Star’s is truncate, with a squared-off base.  Some people say that Woodland Star’s angled hypanthium reminds them of the letter W (for Woodland).

Hill Star – Lithophragma heterophyllum

Blooms:

Feb–July

Plant Height:

15–50 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Shaded woodland slopes

Notes:

This and Woodland Star (Lithophragma affine, see above) are two equally beautiful early spring bloomers with similar pure white flowers and growth habits.  The slender, many-flowered stems may be either green or reddish.  The two species are readily distinguished by their hypanthium (flower base).  Hill Star has a truncate hypanthium with a squared-off base.  Woodland Star has an obconic, tapered hypanthium.  Some people say that Hill Star’s squarish hypanthium reminds them of the letter H (for Hill).  Photo #4 by CJH.

Star, Hill

California Saxifrage – Micranthes californica

Blooms:

Feb–June

Plant Height:

15–35 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Shaded woodland slopes

Notes:

This common plant blooms in early spring, sometimes in profusion.  The leaves form a basal rosette, hairy and slightly toothed.  There is a single stem, long and branching, green or red, bearing loose clusters of small white flowers.  They are 5-petaled, with 10 bright orange-red anthers.  Photos #2 and 4 by CJH.

Saxigrage, California
Saxifrage, California