Purple Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia)

Purple Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia)
Also known as: french knot moss


Bloom time: April – May

Additional photos:

General: Low, matted cushion plant.

Leaves & Twigs: The plant’s short stems are completely covered by many tiny (3-6 mm) pairs of overlapping, grey-green, scale-like leaves.

Flowers & Fruits:

  • Purple (and rarely, white), star-shaped flowers (1 cm wide) are large in comparison to the leaves.
  • Flowers grow on short stalks, often in great profusion, above the cushion of leaves.

Habitat: This species of saxifrage occupies moist, calcium-rich gravel areas in arctic and alpine environments. It also colonizes barren, exposed rock and damp crevices in cliffs.

PlantWatch Pointers: If these plants are very abundant, mark a patch 1 metre square to observe. Otherwise, tag a single cushion plant. The whole cushion plant tends to flower at once.

To Observe:

  • First bloom: when the first flower is open in the observed plants.
  • Mid bloom: when the first flower petal on any individual flower wrinkles or loses its colour in the observed plants.

Distribution Map:

Distribution Map

This species is monitored in:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Yukon

In Canada’s North, the blooming of purple saxifrage coincides with calving in caibou herds.