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

Saxifraga tolmiei Torr. & A. Gray
Tolmie's saxifrage
Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Virginia Skilton  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #4403)

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Distribution of Saxifraga tolmiei
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from slender, woody stem-bases; flowering stems 3-8 cm tall, smooth or purplish glandular-hairy, leafless or with 1 to 3 leaves, many sterile leafy branches.
Basal leaves few, if any; stem leaves numerous below, alternate, usually crowded, persistent for years, pear- to spoon-shaped or oblanceolate, 3-10 mm long, entire, fleshy, smooth or bases fringed.
Inflorescence of terminal, single flowers or clusters of up to 4, lower branches often with leaf-like bractlets; petals white, 2.5-5 mm long, elliptic egg-shaped to broadly oblanceolate, clawed or not; calyces saucer-shaped, joined to the lower portion of the ovary, free hypanthium absent, smooth, purple-tinged, the lobes oval to oblong egg-shaped, 2-3 mm long, spreading; stamens 10.
Capsules, 8-12 mm long, often purplish-mottled; seeds light brown, about 0.8 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist rock outcrops, streambanks, snowbed sites and scree slopes in the upper subalpine and alpine zones; frequent in the Coast-Cascade Mountains N to 57degreeN and Vancouver Island, rare on the Queen Charlotte Islands and in E BC; N to SE AK and S toMT, ID, NV and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Ecological Indicator Information

A very shade-intolerant, subalpine to alpine, Western North American forb distributed more in the Pacific than the Cordilleran region. Occurs in maritime to submaritime alpine tundra and subalpine boreal climates on very moist to wet exposed mineral soils. Common in sparsely vegetated , non-forested snow-patch communities on unstable sheet-wash slopes or hamada-like surfaces; often associated with graminoids. Characteristic of alpine communities.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


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 alpine tundra & boreal.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Saxifraga tolmiei var. ledifolia (Greene) Engl. & Irmsch.
Saxifraga tolmiei var. tolmiei
Saxifraga tomiei subsp. tomiei

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References