Montana Outdoors

June 12, 2012

“On moist outcroppings…”

Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , , , — montucky @ 11:00 pm

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”.

Alaska saxifrage, Russethair saxifrage, Rusty saxifrage

Alaska saxifrage, Russethair saxifrage, Rusty saxifrage

Alaska saxifrage, Russethair saxifrage, Rusty saxifrage

Alaska saxifrage, Russethair saxifrage, Rusty saxifrage, Saxifraga ferruginea

(Found in Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Alberta, British Columbia and Northwest Territory)

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48 Comments »

  1. I think we have some sort of saxifrage in NH, but I’ve never knowingly seen any. I don’t think it’s for a lack of moist rocky outcrops though. 😉 Very nice shots Terry.

    Like

    Comment by jomegat — June 12, 2012 @ 11:26 pm

    • The other species of saxifrage that I’ve seen were at much higher elevations. One of them I’ve seen only at the base of an old fire lookout cabin at about 7,000 feet.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 12, 2012 @ 11:48 pm

  2. This is beautiful – what gorgeous flowers!

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    Comment by Jo Woolf — June 13, 2012 @ 12:09 am

  3. I like these a lot!

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    Comment by TheDailyClick — June 13, 2012 @ 3:45 am

    • I do too. They are pretty in a close up and also nice in a group.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 13, 2012 @ 8:44 pm

  4. That’s a nice one.I won’t bother looking for it here!

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    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — June 13, 2012 @ 6:25 am

    • Their distribution is pretty limited, isn’t it! Also a rather unusual distribution, far northwest.

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      Comment by montucky — June 13, 2012 @ 8:45 pm

  5. So fragile looking, and so beautiful. Such a contrast of tender beauty against the harsh rocks. What a treasure you’ve discovered.

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    Comment by Homestead Ramblings — June 13, 2012 @ 6:35 am

    • I’m glad I found these. Now I will be looking for them in other similar places.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 13, 2012 @ 8:45 pm

  6. From reading the about them on Wikipedia, I would say you were in the right place to find one. Rocky mountaintops are where they grow. Can you believe there are 440 species? This one is very pretty.

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    Comment by sandy — June 13, 2012 @ 6:54 am

    • That’s a lot of species! I think we may have a dozen species here, but I’ve only found 5.

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      Comment by montucky — June 13, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

  7. Such a dainty flower — very pretty!

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    Comment by allbymyself09 — June 13, 2012 @ 11:08 am

  8. 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.

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    Comment by Tammie — June 13, 2012 @ 11:47 am

    • 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”!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 13, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

      • 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.

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        Comment by Tammie — June 13, 2012 @ 10:47 pm

        • Yes, I know what you mean. If I get over there I’ll watch for you. It’s only about a half hour drive for me and so I’ll probably wait to make sure the sun will be out.

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          Comment by montucky — June 14, 2012 @ 12:07 am

  9. I’m still amazed at the stamina of flowers and trees that are able to cling to rocky slopes and cliffs. In the process, they add a touch of beauty.

    Malcolm

    Like

    Comment by knightofswords — June 13, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

    • 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.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 13, 2012 @ 8:52 pm

  10. Ah, pretty little things! Isn’t it amazing what you find when you really look??

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    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — June 13, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

    • It’s is amazing to see what is out there. I have driven past that place dozens of times and I know they must have been there, but the slower speed of the bike let me notice them.

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      Comment by montucky — June 13, 2012 @ 8:54 pm

  11. So delicate and pretty, and yet another flower I’ve never heard of. “Saxifrage” is such an interesting word – it sounds like it ought to be middle English.

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    Comment by shoreacres — June 13, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

    • 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.”

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 13, 2012 @ 9:00 pm

  12. 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

    Like

    Comment by snowbirdpress — June 13, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

    • I’m glad that you have enjoyed seeing these. I think they are beautiful little blossoms. Here is a photo of another species that’s also very pretty.

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      Comment by montucky — June 13, 2012 @ 9:06 pm

      • Thanks …. Posts like yours stir such creative instincts in me… I am most grateful!

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        Comment by snowbirdpress — June 15, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

  13. This post is a treasure, indeed.

    Like

    Comment by snowbirdpress — June 13, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

  14. They get prettier the closer you get to them. Very nice, Montucky.

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    Comment by seekraz — June 13, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  15. I love the detail you captured with your photos of the flowers. I think I’m always too impatient whenever I take flower photos because mine are never focused correctly.

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    Comment by Ratty — June 13, 2012 @ 11:08 pm

    • 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!

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      Comment by montucky — June 14, 2012 @ 12:05 am

      • 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.

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        Comment by snowbirdpress — June 15, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

  16. They’re really colorful little things.

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    Comment by Candace — June 14, 2012 @ 10:29 pm

  17. 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.

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    Comment by Sartenada — June 14, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

    • The saxifrage family seems to be a very successful one, so widespread with so many species.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 15, 2012 @ 8:16 am

  18. I’m partial to those white dots along the side of a path that turn into glorious flowers upon closed examination! 🙂

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    Comment by Bo Mackison — June 15, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

    • It really pays to investigate everything that you notice. There is always something new and awesome awaiting.

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      Comment by montucky — June 15, 2012 @ 10:17 pm

  19. That’s a cute floral array, especially as depicted in the middle image. The word saxifrage, by the way, means “breaks stone,” but it doesn’t look like yours were imprisoned and doing hard labor.

    Steve Schwartzman
    http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com

    Like

    Comment by Steve Schwartzman — June 15, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

    • They actually had a pretty nice place to live. Not likely to be disturbed very often, plenty of water and a great view, although I’m not sure they take advantage of that.

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      Comment by montucky — June 15, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

  20. amazing! how great to score a new find!!

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    Comment by skouba — June 15, 2012 @ 9:00 pm

    • It’s great, yet humbling too. We really know so little about our world.

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      Comment by montucky — June 15, 2012 @ 10:21 pm

  21. Love the contrast of the white petals with the yellow spots and red stamens.

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    Comment by Kim — June 15, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

  22. We have many saxifragas in our scandinavian mountains. Most are tiny, but all very beautiful. Nice photos.

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    Comment by bentehaarstad — June 16, 2012 @ 6:56 am

    • I think they are welcome everywhere. Such pretty flowers!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 16, 2012 @ 7:20 pm


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