|Saxifraga oppositifolia subsp. var.||Purple mountain saxifrage, purple saxifrage|
Saxifraga oppositifolia, the purple saxifrage or purple mountain saxifrage, is a species of edible plant that is very common all over the high Arctic and also some high mountainous areas further south, including northern Britain, the Alps and the Rocky Mountains. It is even known to grow on Kaffeklubben Island in north Greenland, at 83°40'N, the most northerly plant locality in the world.
It is a low-growing, densely or loosely matted plant growing to 3–5 cm high, with somewhat woody branches of creeping or trailing habit close to the surface. The leaves are small, rounded, scale-like, opposite in 4 rows, with ciliated margins. The flowers are solitary on short stalks, petals purple or lilac, much longer than the calyx lobes. It is one of the very first spring flowers, continuing to flower during the whole summer in localities where the snow melts later. The flowers grow to about 0.5 inches in diametre.
It grows in all kinds of cold temperate to arctic habitats, from sea level up to 1000 m, in many places colouring the landscape. It is a popular plant in alpine gardens, though difficult to grow in warm climates.
The flowers can be picked for food. The semi-sweet petals are edible. The flower is known to the Inuit people as aupilaktunnguaq.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Saxifraga oppositifolia, Linn. (Antiphylla oppositifolia, Small). Caudicles procumbent and much branched, 6-8 in. long, the branches densely cespitose, the flowering ones erect, about 6 in. high at most, glabrous and 1-fld.: lvs. opposite, stiff, dark green, gray-tipped, the lower and those of the sterile branches imbricate in 4 rows, the upper rather remote, oblong or obovate, apex spreading-recurved, obtuse, thickened, 1-3-pitted, 3-cornered-carinate below: fls. showy, violet or lilac, sometimes rose-purple, terminal; calyx-lobes ovate, obtuse; petals obovate-oblong, 5-nerved, 3 times as long as the calyx-lobes. March-June, rarely Aug. Rocks, alpine and boreal parts of Eu., Asia, and N. Amer., south to Gulf of St. Lawrence, mountains of N. Vt., Mont., and Idaho. L.B.C. 9:869. G.C. 111.49:117. Gn. 71, p. 179; 76, p. 603: 78, p. 57.—An excellent little rock-plant, making a sedum-like mat, the foliage of a purplish cast. Many variations in cult. Var. alba, Hort., has a compact habit, very dark green lvs., and starry white fls. Var. coccinea, Hort., has fls. of a richer shade of purple than the type. Var. grandiflora, Hort., is a form with elongated branches larger, obovate-rotund petals which are attenuate only at the clawed base and 7-9-nerved: the fls. are large and rosy purple. Pyrenees. Var. Latina, Farrer (S. Latina, Hayek), is a form with very small compact foliage and good-sized, soft rosy purple fls. whose petals are obovate, rather acute, and 5-nerved. Italy. Var. major, Hort., has creeping, rooting sts., tiny rosettes of deep green lvs., and many fls. of a rich crimson-red. This is considered by some to be identical with var. pyrenaica or very nearly so. Var. pyrenaica, Hort., is a robust very free-growing form, with large crimson fls. A form of this variety with very large rosy lilac fls. and a rather erect habit, said to come from the mountains of Wales, is cult. under the name of S. pyrenaica superba. G.C. II. 21:419. Var. Rudolphiana, Kittel (S. Rudolphiana, Hornsh.), a form with short branches, forming small, very dense tufts: upper lvs. and calyx-lobes glandular-ciliate: sts. short and more or less erect: fls. terminal and erect; petals obovate, 3-5-nerved. Austrian Alps. Var. speciosa, Farrer, has a stouter and bolder habit and foliage than other forms of the species and has very large pale rose fls. showing very little tendency toward the magenta. Var. splendens, Hort. (S. spuria var. splendens, Hort.), is a form with large fls. of a very bright purplish crimson or intense rose-purple, which are produced very freely in March. Wales.—This will grow well on a north exposure. It is also grown under the name of var. pyrenaica splendens. CH
Pests and diseases
There are a few subspecies, including:
- Saxifraga oppositifolia ssp. glandulisepala Hultén - Native from Alaska.
- Saxifraga oppositifolia ssp. oppositifolia L. - Native from Continental US.
- Saxifraga oppositifolia ssp. smalliana (Engl. & Irmsch.) Hultén - Native from Alaska.
- ↑ http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=24230
- ↑ Sagax Groenland 2007 
- ↑ http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=24232
- ↑ http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=24231
- ↑ http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=24233
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963