Purple Mountain Saxifrage
Saxifraga oppositifolia ssp. oppositifolia L.
Uses: Petals are edible but bitter
Identification and Habitat
Purple mountain saxifrage is a low-growing, small, matted plant with dark green rounded and scaly leaves earning it the name French Knot. It has many small 5-petaled, cup-shaped flowers that are magenta to purple in color. The flowers are about 1-1.5 cm in diameter, growing on short stalks rising slightly above the leaves. The plant is cushion-like and may grow to about 5 cm in height. The leaves are 2-4 mm long. The taproot may be very long, up to 50 cm or 20 in.
The plant grows in gravelly slopes, talus, and rocky ridges with decent moisture. I’ve often seen it growing in rocky glacier moraines where little soil grows between cracks in the rocks. It blooms very early, following snowmelt.
Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 20
Saxifraga oppositifolia ssp. oppositifolia L., ITIS Report
Saxifraga oppositifolia L. ssp. Oppositifolia, USDA database
Purple Mountain Saxifrage – Saxifraga oppositifolia, Montana Field Guides
Purple Saxifrage, Alberta Plantwatch