SaxifrageSaxifrage is the common name for several herbaceous plants of family Saxifragaceae, primarily genus Saxifraga [from Lat saxifragus, "stone-breaking," describing the ability of roots to burrow into rocks via cracks]. Thirty-three species occur in Canada; 370 worldwide. Some Canadian species, eg, S. aizoides and S. oppositifolia, are circumpolar and are also found in Iceland, Spitsbergen, northern Europe and Siberia. Most Canadian saxifrages are found in western alpine regions from the Yukon Territory to BC and Alberta.
Flowers, mostly small, commonly white or yellow, are borne as terminal clusters on hairy stalks. Plants form tufted, spreading cushions, frequently giving striking patches of colour. S. oppositifolia (purple mountain saxifrage), forming low mats covered by cup-shaped, rosy-purple flowers, is among northernmost growing plants (found on Ellesmere Island). It was adopted as NUNAVUT's floral emblem in 2000. Other well-known Canadian members of the family include the genera Ribes (currants and gooseberries), Philadelphus (mock orange), Mitella (mitrewort or bishop's cap) and Tiarella (false mitrewort or foam flower). Introduced plants include Bergenia (elephant ear) with deep pink flowers.