A few days ago on a short bike trip on a lightly traveled road along the river, some small specks of white caught my eye. They decorated an area of sharp cliffs that had a seep of water trickling down over them. I stopped and a closer look disclosed these pretty little blossoms of a species of saxifrage that I had never before encountered. (Just when you think you’ve seen them all.) My favorite plant book notes under Ecology: “Scattered at low to subalpine elevations mostly in wet Columbia Mountains on moist rock outcrops, damp soil and streambanks”.
so very lovely and tiny, so not easy to get the gorgeous photographs you have here.
i am considering a romp to find bitteroot flowers tomorrow, what do you think? I hear the sun might be shinning down in that area tomorrow. You mentioned that you saw them along the highway. Do you simply wander about until you see color and pull over? Thanks for any suggestions.
Hi Tammie! Tomorrow should be a good day for them if the sun comes out. Last year they were in full bloom on June 4. Yes, You should be able to see color from the highway: that’s what I do. There isn’t a whole lot of traffic on that road, so going slow to look isn’t much of a problem. If you’re coming from the north on Hwy 28, when you turn onto 382 the road goes up a pretty good hill and over the crest into Camas Prairie. On the downward slope, before the road hits the valley bottom, there were some really nice areas to the right (west) of the road. There are usually some yellow lupines along there too, and toward the end of 382 there were lots of other wildflowers booming last year too. I haven’t been there yet this year, but if I get a chance tomorrow I might go over. If you see a white Jeep with a black top and 35- plates, stop and say “Hi”!
thank you for the directions…. if you see a burgundy Toyota Previa van, stop and say hi! I have no idea what time i will be that way. I will wander out when i wake up and then whatever catches my fancy each step of the way is what i will do. It is a wander adventure, I am sure you know what i mean.
These cliffs weren’t especially high, but they were nearly vertical and the plants must have rooted in crevices where there was a little soil. They really looked nice against the wet rock which looked almost black.
My favorite plant book says that “the name Saxifrage comes from the Latin saxum, ‘a rock’, and frangere ‘to break’. because these plants were thought to break the rocks upon which they grow. Saxifrage plants were ground up and fed to patients with gallstones as a supposed cure.”
This is so great! Years ago I loved the word “saxifrage” in my poetry… I had never seen a real one, but had looked it up in the field guides and the word itself conjures up so many images. Now, through your photos I finally get to see what it looks like for real. Wonderful. Many thanks, Merrill
Thanks Ratty. Yes, it does take a lot of patience. I’ve found too that if your camera has auto-focus it usually takes some convincing before it will focus correctly on wildflowers, I think because they have such subtle colors usually and don’t present enough contrast for the camera to recognize. Thank goodness for digital: could not have afforded to learn with film!
I’m sure glad you did. I too have a bit of trouble with the focus on my digital. I’ve learned to click it a few times before I actually take the photo…it seems to help the camera focus on these things.
I love the way You presented these beautiful photos. Here in Finland we have some sort of saxifrage also, but not this species. Also on our small garden we have one, but we do not know the subspecies of it.