Early flowering saxifrages

by Doreen Smith

The plants highlighted this month are our two early-flowering saxifrages, California saxifrage, Micranthes californica and grassland saxifrage, Micranthes integrifolia. Yes, the Latin names have been changed recently!

The first is common in Marin County and it’s usually found growing on well-drained rocky slopes. Some can be seen on a steep roadside bank just west of the Big Rock along Lucas Valley Road. This species is not a good garden subject as it must have no summer watering to survive.

The second is at its southern limit here, and found near Tomales growing in some moist, grassy swales about the Elephant Rocks on Dillon Beach Road. Though mentioned in Howell’s Marin Flora of 2007 and represented by Herbarium specimens at California Academy of Sciences it has missed being mentioned as occurring in Marin County in the 2nd edition of the Jepson Manual and in the Jepson Herbarium e-Flora online source. Calflora.org does have it listed but with the wrong GPS coordinates which were added by someone other than the source of those records. I checked. Again, it’s not a good garden subject needing to be completely dry all summer.

The two species are illustrated here by photographs from Doreen and Vernon Smith.

Micranthes integrifolia – (grassland saxifrage)

 

Micranthes integrifolia – (grassland saxifrage)

 

Photo by Vernon Smith

Micranthes californica – (California saxifrage)

 

Micranthes californica – (California saxifrage)