Saxifraga, commonly called Saxifrage or Rockfoil, is a large genus of about 400 species of perennials in the family Saxifragaceae, native to temperate, subarctic and alpine areas of Europe, Asia and North America.
The plant produces fine-textured foliage and small bright flowers, usually with five petals, five sepals and ten stamens. Saxifrages are great for rock gardens, containers or along retaining walls.
The genus name is derived from the Latin words “saxum”, which means “rock” or “stone” and “frangere”, meaning “to break”. It literally means “stone-breaker”.
Some believe the name refers to its ancient medicinal use for treating urinary stones.
The common name “Rockfoil” comes from its preference for a rocky environment.
Saxifrage symbolizes devotion, affection and passion.
Interesting facts about Saxifraga:
Purple Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia) in Nunavut, Canada.
Saxifraga oppositifolia, commonly known as Purple Saxifrage, is one of the most northerly flowering plants in the world. It is the official territorial flower of Nunavut. The remote area is located in the northernmost territory of Canada, where more than 80 per cent of the population is Inuit.
The plant is considered a necessary part of the Inuit diet as it is rich in vitamin C.
It provides not only food, but also contributes as an important time-keeping function. Inuit use blooming period of Saxifraga oppositifolia as a reminder of calving in caribou herds.
Companion Plants for Saxifraga
Although they are not succulents, Saxifrages are used as companion plants to many hardy succulents, such as Echeveria, Sempervivum and Sedum.
Other alpine species, such as Trollius, Gentiana and Geranium are also good companions.
The flowers are usually white, but may be yellow, purple, pink and red.
Spring, Autumn, Winter, Summer
This plant usually reaches about 30 cm (1 ft) in height.
Appropriate soil type depends on species. In general, these plants like moist and well drained soil, with a pH level between 6.0 and 8.0.