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Kidney Saxifrage

Saxifraga hirsuta

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
15 centimetres tall
Cliffs, gardens, mountains, riverbanks, rocky places, waterside, woodland.

White, 5 petals
White or pale pink star-shaped flowers with downturned sepals. Petals have a yellow patch and usually some pink spots.
The fruit is a capsule which produces the seeds.
A mat-forming, evergreen perennial flower. Very hairy, long-stalked, toothed, circular or kidney-shaped leaves.
Other Names:
Hairy Saxifrage, Kidney-leaf Saxifrage, Robertsoniana Saxifrage.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Saxifraga hirsuta is a species of flowering plant in the saxifrage family. It is native to the mountains of Europe and Asia and is commonly known as Hairy Saxifrage. It is a perennial plant that typically grows to be around 10-15 cm tall. The leaves are basal and rosette-forming, and are hairy and toothed. The flowers are small and white, and are borne on tall spikes. They bloom in the late spring to early summer. It is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of different soil types, and is well-suited to rock gardens and alpine gardens.


Kidney Saxifrage, scientifically known as Saxifraga hirsuta, is a species of flowering plant that belongs to the Saxifragaceae family. It is a hardy plant that is found in the alpine and subalpine regions of Europe and Asia. In this blog post, we will explore the characteristics, habitat, and uses of this plant.


Kidney Saxifrage is a small plant that typically grows up to 10 cm in height. It has long, hairy stems and small, kidney-shaped leaves that grow in a rosette formation. The plant produces clusters of small, white or pink flowers that bloom from June to August. The flowers are hermaphroditic, meaning that they have both male and female reproductive organs.


Kidney Saxifrage is adapted to grow in harsh, rocky environments, and can be found in alpine and subalpine regions throughout Europe and Asia. It is often found growing in crevices in rocks and on scree slopes, and is tolerant to extreme weather conditions such as freezing temperatures and high winds. The plant prefers well-drained, alkaline soil and is often found growing in meadows and grasslands.


Kidney Saxifrage has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes. It is believed to have diuretic properties, and has been used to treat conditions such as kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and edema. The plant has also been used as a poultice to treat wounds and skin irritations.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Kidney Saxifrage has also been used for culinary purposes. The leaves and flowers of the plant have a slightly bitter taste and can be used in salads, soups, and stews. The plant is also rich in vitamin C and has been used as a source of nutrition in times of famine.

Kidney Saxifrage is a hardy and adaptable plant that has a long history of medicinal and culinary uses. Its ability to thrive in extreme environments makes it a valuable resource in alpine and subalpine regions, and its unique characteristics and uses make it an interesting subject for further study.

More Information

Kidney Saxifrage is also a popular plant in horticulture due to its small size and delicate beauty. It can be grown in rock gardens, alpine gardens, or in containers, and is easy to cultivate. The plant prefers full sun to partial shade and requires regular watering. It is also important to ensure that the soil is well-drained to prevent the plant from becoming waterlogged.

In addition to its ornamental and medicinal uses, Kidney Saxifrage has ecological significance as well. It is an important food source for pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, and is often found growing in meadows and grasslands alongside other wildflowers. The plant's ability to grow in harsh environments also helps to stabilize soils and prevent erosion.

Kidney Saxifrage is just one of many species of Saxifrage, a diverse genus of plants that includes over 400 species. Other popular species include London Pride (Saxifraga x urbium) and Yellow Mountain Saxifrage (Saxifraga aizoides). These plants are often used in rock gardens and alpine gardens due to their hardiness and unique beauty.

Kidney Saxifrage is a fascinating plant with a rich history of medicinal and culinary uses, as well as ecological significance. Its unique characteristics and adaptability make it an important resource in alpine and subalpine regions, and its delicate beauty and ease of cultivation make it a popular choice in horticulture.

Kidney Saxifrage is also known by several other common names, including Hairy Alpine Saxifrage and Tawny Saxifrage. Its scientific name, Saxifraga hirsuta, is derived from the Latin word "hirsutus," meaning "hairy," which refers to the plant's stems and leaves.

In traditional medicine, Kidney Saxifrage has been used for a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections, digestive issues, and skin conditions. The plant contains several bioactive compounds, including flavonoids, tannins, and saponins, which are thought to be responsible for its medicinal properties.

While Kidney Saxifrage is generally considered safe for consumption, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before using the plant for medicinal purposes, particularly if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications.

Kidney Saxifrage is a fascinating and versatile plant that has played an important role in human history and continues to be valued for its beauty, medicinal properties, and ecological significance. Its ability to thrive in harsh environments and its adaptability make it a valuable resource, and its unique characteristics make it a subject of ongoing scientific study and appreciation.

Kidney Saxifrage is a particularly important plant for biodiversity conservation, especially in the high altitude habitats in which it thrives. The plant has been identified as a bioindicator species, which means that it can provide valuable information about the health and quality of its surrounding ecosystem. As such, Kidney Saxifrage has become an important focus of conservation efforts, particularly in regions where its habitat is threatened by human activity or climate change.

One of the key challenges facing the conservation of Kidney Saxifrage and other alpine plants is the vulnerability of their high-altitude habitats to climate change. As temperatures rise and weather patterns become more erratic, these ecosystems are increasingly at risk from extreme weather events, habitat degradation, and invasive species. As such, it is important to continue to study and protect these unique and fragile ecosystems, as they provide important services such as soil stabilization, water regulation, and carbon sequestration.

In addition to its ecological and conservation significance, Kidney Saxifrage is also an important cultural symbol in many regions where it is found. For example, the plant has played a role in the traditional medicine and folklore of several indigenous communities in the Himalayas and other mountainous regions. It has also been depicted in art, literature, and music throughout history, and continues to inspire artists and creatives today.

In conclusion, Kidney Saxifrage is a plant with a rich history and a diverse range of uses and meanings. Its unique characteristics and ecological significance make it an important subject for scientific study and conservation, and its cultural significance underscores the value of preserving the natural world and the diverse ways in which humans interact with it.


Kidney Saxifrage filmed at Fairy Glen, Parbold, Lancashire on the 6th May 2023.


Music credits
Darkest Child A by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

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