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Highland Saxifrage

Saxifraga rivularis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
12 centimetres tall
Gardens, mountains, riversides, rocky places, waterside, wetland.

White, 5 petals
White or pink flowers, 8 to 10mm across in size. Flowers are formed in small clusters of 1 to 3 on a stem. The petals are just slightly longer than the sepals.
The fruit is a many-seeded capsule.
The leaves are palmately lobed. The lobes are shallow. Grows in wet places on mountains in the Highlands of Scotland. Perennial.
Other Names:
Alpine Brook Saxifrage, Pygmy Saxifrage, Stream Saxifrage, Weak Saxifrage.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Saxifraga rivularis, also known as stream saxifrage, is a perennial plant native to the Arctic and subarctic regions of Europe and Asia. It is a hardy plant that thrives in damp, shady areas, such as along stream banks and in rocky crevices. The plant has small, white or pink flowers that bloom in spring and summer. It is often used as a ground cover in gardens, and is also a popular plant for rock gardens and alpine gardens.


Highland Saxifrage, also known as Saxifraga rivularis, is a beautiful and unique plant that grows in the high altitudes of the Scottish Highlands. This small, perennial plant is a member of the Saxifraga genus, which contains over 400 species of flowering plants.

One of the most striking features of Highland Saxifrage is its delicate, white flowers that bloom in late spring and early summer. These flowers have five petals and are arranged in clusters at the top of a single, wiry stem. The petals are often tinged with pink or purple and have distinctive dark markings at the base.

Highland Saxifrage typically grows in rocky, alpine habitats, often in areas where the soil is thin and nutrient-poor. It is a hardy plant that is able to tolerate cold temperatures and harsh conditions. In fact, its ability to grow in challenging environments has made it a popular choice for rock gardens and alpine plantings.

Despite its delicate appearance, Highland Saxifrage is a tough little plant that can survive in some of the harshest conditions in the Scottish Highlands. Its ability to thrive in rocky, mountainous environments has made it an important part of the ecosystem, providing a source of food and shelter for a variety of insects and other wildlife.

If you are looking to add a touch of Scottish Highland charm to your garden, consider planting Highland Saxifrage. With its delicate, white flowers and hardy nature, it is sure to be a standout addition to any rock garden or alpine planting.

In addition to its aesthetic appeal and ecological importance, Highland Saxifrage has also been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. In traditional Scottish medicine, the plant was used to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive issues, respiratory problems, and skin conditions.

Highland Saxifrage is also an important cultural symbol in Scotland. The plant is sometimes referred to as "the queen of Scottish flowers" and has been used in traditional tartan designs and as a motif in Scottish art and literature.

Despite its hardy nature and cultural significance, Highland Saxifrage is considered a vulnerable species in the wild. Its habitat is under threat from climate change, overgrazing, and other human activities. Conservation efforts are underway to protect this important plant and its fragile alpine ecosystem.

Highland Saxifrage is a beautiful and unique plant that is important both ecologically and culturally. Its delicate white flowers and ability to thrive in challenging environments make it a valuable addition to any garden or rockery, and its traditional medicinal uses and cultural significance make it an important part of Scotland's heritage. It is vital that we continue to work to protect and conserve this important species and the fragile alpine habitats in which it grows.

Highland Saxifrage is a relatively small plant, growing to a height of around 10-20cm. It has a compact rosette of fleshy, dark green leaves that are typically 2-3cm in length. The leaves are spoon-shaped and have a slightly serrated edge.

The plant is typically found growing in rocky or gravelly soils, in locations where water flows rapidly over the rocks. It prefers well-drained, acidic soils and is often found growing in association with other alpine plants, such as mosses, lichens, and other saxifrage species.

Highland Saxifrage is easy to grow from seed, although it can be slow to establish. It prefers a sunny or partially shaded location and should be kept moist during the growing season. It is generally pest and disease-free and does not require fertilization.

In terms of propagation, Highland Saxifrage can be propagated by division or cuttings. Divisions should be taken in early spring or late autumn, while cuttings should be taken in late spring or early summer.

In conclusion, Highland Saxifrage is a beautiful and unique plant that is an important part of the Scottish Highlands' ecology and culture. Its delicate white flowers and hardy nature make it a valuable addition to any garden, while its traditional medicinal uses and cultural significance make it an important part of Scotland's heritage. It is essential that we continue to work to protect and conserve this valuable species and its fragile alpine habitats.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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