Saxifraga cespitosa L.

Family: Saxifragaceae

Synonyms: Saxifraga cespitosa L. [orthographic variant]; Muscaria cespitosa (L.) Small; Saxafraga groenlandica L.; Saxifraga sileneflora Sternberg ex Chamisso; Saxifraga uniflora R.Brown

Vernacular Name: Tufted alpine saxifrage

Discussion: The taxonomy and limits of infraspecific epithets within the variable Saxifraga cespitosa is unclear. Some authors recognize minor variants as varieties and major regional types as species, while others on the more conservative (and more widely accepted) side do not recognize the minor variants at all, and include regional entities as varieties or subspecies. There are usually 5 varieties or subspecies recognized.

Distribution: This species or complex of species is found throughout the Boreal Arctic and extends south in the Alpine of western North America to Northern California, Northern Arizona, and Northern New Mexico. Four similar species in South America (i.e. S. adenodes Poeppig, S. magellanica [sensu latu] Poiret, S. boussingaultii Brongniart, and S. pavonii D. Don) could, at least in part, be referable to this species.

Our subspecies occurs in the Alpine in the Rocky Mountains from British Columbia and Alberta south to Northern New Mexico and Arizona.

Comments: J.K.Small (1905; N. Am. Fl. 22) split the Colorado members of this complex into three separate species. These are Muscaria monticola Small, Muscaria delicatula Small, and Muscaria micropetala Small. They are not generally accepted (except by W.A.Weber), and I could find little additional information on them. They are separated by sepal, petal, and inflorescence length and appear to be nothing more than environmentally induced variations. Not surprisingly, the "species" (M. delicatula) with the more average measurements is the most common.

Important Literature:

Hickman, J.C. (Editor). 1993. The Jepson Manual, Higher Plants of California, University of California Press.

Kearney, T.H. and R.H. Peebles. 1951. Arizona Flora, University of California Press.

Shreve F. and I.L. Wiggins. 1964. Vegetation and Flora of the Sonoran Desert, Stanford University Press.

Webb, D.A. and R.J. Gornall. 1989. Saxifrages, Timber Press, Portland, Oregon, USA

Webb, D.A. and R.J.Gornall. 1989. Saxifrages of Europe, Chiristopher Helm Publishers Ltd., Imperial House, Bromley, Kent, Great Britain.

Weber, W.A. 1987. Colorado Flora, Western Slope, University of Colorado Press.

Weber, W.A. 1990. Colorado Flora, Eastern Slope, University of Colorado Press.

Welsh, S.L., N.D. Atwood, S. Goodrich, and L. Higgins (Editors). 1987. A Utah Flora, Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs #9, Brigham Young University.

Wooton, E.O. and P.C. Standley. 1915. Flora of New Mexico. Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. 19, Bull. U.S. Natl. Mus., Washington D.C.

Information Compiled By: David J. Ferguson, 1998