Virginia saxifrage – 4/25/23

Observer: Paul Lauenstein

Observation Date: 4/25/23

Observation Time: 8:15 a.m.

Observation Location: Moose Hill Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary (bluff overlook)

Common Name: Virginia saxifrage

Scientific Name: Micranthes virginiensis

Comments: The characteristic features of saxifrage are consistent with its alpine provenance and consequent tenacity. A rosette of basal toothed leaves huddle on a rocky substrate to hold fast in the boreal winds that prevail in typical mountain habitats. Saxifrages are perennial and therefore retain their foliage, which turns red in winter due to the production of protective anthocyanin, regaining photosynthetic function and its attendant verdant hues that mark the advent of spring. The hardiness of the early saxifrage is evident in the near soilless niche habitat that it occupies with only lichens for competition.

I spotted this blooming specimen growing near a granite outcrop at the top of a cliff.

More Information: Hiker’s Notebook