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Alpine Saxifrage

Saxifraga nivalis

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Plant Profile

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

White, 5 petals
The white flowers are formed in clusters at the top of their erect stems. They are white and usually tipped pink. Flowers turn reddish with age. The sepals are erect. 10 stamens.
A 2-sectioned capsule.
A perennial plant with erect, purplish stems. The stalked, greyish-green leaves form a basal rosette and are hairy, purple beneath. They are leathery and spoon-shaped with round-toothed margins. Leaves measure anything up to 3cm in length. Grows on mountains, preferably in rocky places, such as on cliffs.
Other Names:
Snow Saxifrage.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Saxifraga nivalis, also known as Snow Saxifrage, is a small perennial plant that belongs to the saxifrage family. It is native to the mountains of Europe, Asia and North America, and typically grows at high elevations in alpine and arctic regions. It is a small plant, growing to a height of about 4-8 cm, with a rosette of basal leaves that are hairy and toothed. The flowers are small and white, and are borne on short spikes in late spring to early summer. The plant is hardy and can grow in a variety of different soil types, and is well-suited to rock gardens, alpine gardens and as a ground cover in cold climates.


Alpine Saxifrage, also known as Saxifraga nivalis, is a beautiful perennial plant that thrives in high-altitude environments. It is a member of the Saxifraga genus, which contains over 400 species of flowering plants.

Alpine Saxifrage is native to the European Alps, but it can also be found in other mountainous regions around the world, such as the Rocky Mountains in North America. This plant is well adapted to cold and harsh environments, where it can grow in rock crevices and other rocky areas.

The Alpine Saxifrage plant is relatively small, typically growing to about 5-15cm in height. Its leaves are small and round, and its flowers are typically white or pink in color. The plant blooms in late spring or early summer, and its flowers can persist well into the summer months.

One of the most fascinating features of the Alpine Saxifrage is its ability to grow in incredibly harsh environments. This plant is able to survive in areas with very little soil and moisture, where other plants would struggle to survive. It is able to do this by growing very slowly and conserving its energy, which allows it to survive for years or even decades in the same spot.

Alpine Saxifrage has also been used in traditional medicine for centuries. The plant contains a number of bioactive compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antimicrobial properties. Some studies have even suggested that these compounds could have potential as treatments for cancer and other serious diseases.

Alpine Saxifrage is a fascinating plant that is well adapted to harsh mountain environments. Its ability to survive in these extreme conditions, as well as its potential medicinal properties, make it a plant of great interest to scientists and nature enthusiasts alike.

Alpine Saxifrage is a hardy plant that can be grown in rock gardens, alpine gardens, or other areas with well-drained soil and good sun exposure. It is a popular plant for gardeners who enjoy cultivating plants that are adapted to harsh environments. In addition, it can be grown from seed, cuttings, or divisions of mature plants.

One of the interesting characteristics of Alpine Saxifrage is that it is a calcicole plant, meaning that it prefers alkaline soils with a high pH level. This can make it a challenging plant to grow in areas with acidic soils, but it is well adapted to the alkaline soils found in many high-altitude environments.

Another interesting fact about Alpine Saxifrage is that it is a favorite food of mountain goats and other grazing animals. These animals are able to climb the steep cliffs and rocky outcroppings where the plant grows to feed on its leaves and flowers. Despite being a food source for these animals, the plant is able to survive and thrive in these harsh environments.

Finally, Alpine Saxifrage is a symbol of resilience and tenacity in many cultures. In the Alps, it is seen as a symbol of the region's hardy and resourceful people, who have managed to survive and thrive in the difficult mountain environment for centuries. Its ability to grow in difficult environments has made it an enduring symbol of strength and perseverance.

In summary, Alpine Saxifrage is a fascinating plant with many interesting features. Its ability to grow in harsh environments, its medicinal properties, and its cultural significance make it a plant of great interest to botanists, gardeners, and nature enthusiasts around the world.

Alpine Saxifrage is not only fascinating but also an important plant for the ecosystem. It serves as a habitat and food source for various insects and animals. Its white or pink flowers attract pollinators, including bees, flies, and butterflies. These insects play a critical role in pollinating the plant and contributing to the ecosystem.

In addition to its role in the ecosystem, Alpine Saxifrage has also been used by humans for various purposes. For example, it has been used as a source of dye, with the plant's leaves and flowers being used to create a range of hues from yellow to red. The plant has also been used in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

Finally, as a plant adapted to high-altitude environments, Alpine Saxifrage is particularly vulnerable to climate change. As temperatures rise, the plant's natural habitat is likely to shrink, putting it at risk of extinction. This highlights the importance of protecting and preserving this species, as well as other alpine plants, through conservation efforts and sustainable land use practices.

In conclusion, Alpine Saxifrage is a fascinating and important plant that is well adapted to harsh mountain environments. Its ecological and cultural significance, as well as its potential medicinal properties, make it a plant of great interest and importance to researchers, conservationists, and nature enthusiasts around the world.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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