Name from saxum, a rock, and frango, to break, referring to the habit of several species of growing upon rocks.

Early Saxifrage. Saxifraga Virginiensis

Early Saxifrage. Saxifraga Virginiensis

Perennial. Exposed rocks and dry hillsides. New Brunswick, Ontario, and Minnesota, south to Georgia and Tennessee. Common in northern Ohio. March-May.

Stem

Four to twelve inches high, naked, with sticky hairs.

Leaves

Rather thick, obovate, or spatulate, dentate or crenate, with margined petioles; basal leaves clustered.

Flowers

White, small, clustered, spreading into a loose panicle.

Calyx

Five-cleft; tube free from the ovary.

Corolla

Of five petals.

Stamens

Ten, inserted with the petals.

Pistil

One, with two styles.

Fruit

Purplish-brown pods, many-seeded; seeds small.

Pollinated by flies and bees. Nectar-bearing. Anthers mature before the stigma.

In the chosen haunts of the Early Saxifrage, by the middle of April, the ground is literally covered with little green rosettes of thick, obovate leaves, and right in the centre are the clustered buds of the coming flowers. As soon as the white petals show themselves the stems begin to lengthen, and by the time these are fully open they stand six to ten inches high. When developed the flowers are in a flattish cluster, each having a five-cleft calyx, five petals, ten stamens, and two styles.

The plant has a threatening name for so harmless an individual, as Saxifrage is literally rock-breaker, a name referring to the habit of many of the species of rooting in the clefts of rocks.