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Mossy Saxifrage

Saxifraga hypnoides

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Plant Profile

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

White, 5 petals
5 white nodding petals with pink-tipped buds.
A capsule.
Palmate basal leaves, divided into 3 linear, pointed leaflets. The stem leaves are on barren stems and are undivided.
Other Names:
Cut-leaved Saxifrage, Dovedale Moss, Eve's Cushion, Indian Moss, Lady's Cushion, Queen's Cushion.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Saxifraga hypnoides, also known as mossy saxifrage, is a perennial herbaceous plant species in the Saxifrage family. It is native to Europe and Asia. It has small, oblong-shaped leaves that are covered in fine, white hair, giving the plant a mossy appearance. The small, white or pink flowers bloom in early summer. It typically grows to be about 5-15 cm tall and prefers moist, well-drained soils in partial shade or full sun. This species is commonly found in alpine and subalpine meadows, rocky outcrops, and talus slopes.


Mossy Saxifrage (Saxifraga hypnoides) is a hardy alpine plant that is found in subarctic and alpine regions of the Northern Hemisphere, including the Arctic, northern Europe, and the Rocky Mountains. It is a member of the Saxifraga genus, which includes over 400 species of flowering plants.

Mossy Saxifrage gets its name from its dense, moss-like growth habit. The plant forms compact rosettes of small, rounded leaves that are less than 1 cm in diameter. The leaves are bright green and have a slightly succulent texture. In the spring and summer, the plant sends up wiry stems that are topped with clusters of small, star-shaped flowers. The flowers are typically white or pink with yellow centers.

Mossy Saxifrage is well adapted to harsh alpine environments. The plant is able to withstand cold temperatures, strong winds, and intense sunlight. It is also able to grow in poor, rocky soils. In fact, the plant is often used to help stabilize rocky slopes and prevent soil erosion.

Mossy Saxifrage has a number of medicinal uses. The plant has traditionally been used to treat respiratory ailments, such as coughs and bronchitis. It has also been used as a diuretic and to treat urinary tract infections. However, it is important to note that the plant should only be used under the guidance of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Mossy Saxifrage is also a popular ornamental plant. It is often used in rock gardens and alpine gardens, where its low-growing habit and bright flowers make it a standout. The plant is also well-suited to container gardening, as it can tolerate the dry, nutrient-poor soil found in many pots.

Mossy Saxifrage is a fascinating alpine plant that is well adapted to harsh environments. Whether used for its medicinal properties or grown as an ornamental, this hardy little plant is sure to make a striking addition to any garden.

Mossy Saxifrage is a perennial plant that can grow up to 15 cm in height and 30 cm in width. It prefers full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil, but can also tolerate poor soil conditions. In its natural environment, it can be found growing in rock crevices, on ledges, and in open tundra.

The plant has a number of adaptations that allow it to survive in harsh alpine environments. For example, its small, rounded leaves help to reduce water loss through transpiration, while its dense, moss-like growth habit helps to protect it from the wind and cold. The plant is also able to photosynthesize at low temperatures, which allows it to continue growing even in cold conditions.

Mossy Saxifrage is a valuable plant for alpine ecosystems. It provides food and habitat for a variety of insects, including bees, butterflies, and moths. The plant is also an important food source for some wildlife species, such as mountain sheep and goats.

Mossy Saxifrage is a relatively easy plant to grow and care for. It can be propagated by division or by taking stem cuttings. The plant should be watered regularly during the growing season, but care should be taken not to overwater, as the plant is susceptible to root rot. In the winter, the plant should be protected from excessive moisture, which can also cause damage.

Mossy Saxifrage is a hardy and adaptable plant that has a number of uses and benefits. Whether used for its medicinal properties, grown as an ornamental, or valued for its role in alpine ecosystems, this plant is a fascinating and beautiful addition to any garden.

Mossy Saxifrage has a rich cultural history in many of the regions where it grows. In Scandinavian folklore, the plant was believed to have magical properties and was used in various spells and rituals. In some parts of Norway, it was thought that if a woman picked the first Mossy Saxifrage of the year and put it under her pillow, she would dream of her future husband. In the Rocky Mountains, Native American tribes used the plant for its medicinal properties, as well as for food and dye.

Mossy Saxifrage is also an important plant for scientific research. Its ability to survive in harsh environments and its ability to photosynthesize at low temperatures make it an important model organism for studying plant physiology and adaptation to cold environments. In addition, the plant's small genome size and simple genetic makeup make it a useful model for studying gene expression and development in plants.

Mossy Saxifrage is one of many alpine plants that are threatened by climate change. As temperatures warm, the plant may be forced to move to higher elevations, where suitable habitat may be limited. In addition, changes in precipitation patterns and increased competition from invasive species may also pose a threat to the plant's survival.

In conclusion, Mossy Saxifrage is a fascinating and important plant that has many uses and benefits. From its role in alpine ecosystems to its cultural significance and scientific value, this hardy little plant is a true treasure of the natural world. As we work to address the challenges of climate change and protect our planet's biodiversity, the Mossy Saxifrage and other alpine plants will be important to study, conserve, and appreciate.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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