E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Saxifraga nivalis L.
alpine saxifrage
Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants
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Distribution of Saxifraga nivalis
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from short, stout rhizomes, and black, fibrous roots; flowering stems 5-20 cm tall, glandular-hairy.
Basal leaves in a rosette, leathery, oblanceolate to spoon- or egg-shaped, 1.2-4.5 cm long, 4-16 mm wide, 9- to 21-toothed, gradually tapered at base, sparsely soft-hairy to smooth, sometimes rusty-hairy, fringed; stem leaves lacking.
Inflorescence of 1 to 3 dense clusters of flowers; petals white to pink, 2-3 mm long, egg-shaped to lanceolate, slightly clawed; calyx lobes green to purplish, egg-shaped to triangular, 1-3 mm long, erect; stamens 10.
Capsules, 5-7 mm long.
Plants with rust-coloured hairs on the leaf stalks and underside of the leaves have been recognized as var. tenuis Wahl. They are generally of somewhat smaller stature and more delicate than typical S. nivalis. The distribution of var. tenuis in BC remains to be established.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist rock outcrops and meadows in the alpine zone; frequent in N BC, rare in SW BC; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT and E to PQ; Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Micranthes nivalis (L.) Small

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References