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Starry Saxifrage

Saxifraga stellaris

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Plant Profile

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

White, 5 petals
White flowers loosely clustered on leafless stems. Down-turned sepals. 5 petals, each having 2 orange spots towards the inside of the petal.
A 2-parted fruit capsule.
The leathery leaves are formed in a basal rosette and are ovate, toothed and unstalked.
Other Names:
Hairy Kidneywort, Kidneywort, Star Saxifrage.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Saxifraga stellaris, also known as Starry Saxifrage or Star Saxifrage, is a small perennial plant that is native to the Arctic and alpine regions of Europe and Asia. It is a member of the Saxifragaceae family and typically grows to be about 5-15 cm tall. The plant has small, star-shaped white flowers that bloom in the spring and early summer. It is commonly used as a rock garden plant and can be found growing in crevices and rocky areas.


Starry Saxifrage, also known by its scientific name Saxifraga stellaris, is a beautiful plant that is found in cold and damp environments across the Northern Hemisphere. Its name "starry" comes from the stunning star-shaped flowers that cover the plant's stems during the summer months.

Appearance and Characteristics

Starry Saxifrage is a perennial herb that typically grows up to 10-20 cm tall. Its leaves are spoon-shaped and dark green, with smooth edges that can be slightly serrated. The plant's stems are thin and wiry, with small, white hairs. The most striking feature of the Starry Saxifrage is its flowers, which are small and white, with five petals arranged in a star shape. The flowers are typically 1-2 cm in diameter and appear in clusters at the top of the stems. They bloom from late spring to early summer.

Habitat and Distribution

Starry Saxifrage thrives in cold and wet environments, such as rocky and mountainous areas, alpine meadows, and near waterfalls or streams. It is commonly found in the subalpine and alpine zones of the Northern Hemisphere, including parts of North America, Europe, and Asia.

Ecological and Cultural Significance

Starry Saxifrage is an important species in its habitat, as it provides food and shelter for a variety of insects and small mammals. The plant's leaves and flowers are edible and have been used in traditional medicine to treat a range of ailments, including digestive problems and respiratory issues. In some cultures, Starry Saxifrage is also considered to have spiritual significance.

Conservation Status

Starry Saxifrage is not currently considered endangered, but its population has declined in some areas due to habitat loss and fragmentation caused by human activities such as urbanization, logging, and agriculture. Climate change may also pose a threat to the plant's survival, as it requires cold and wet conditions to thrive. To ensure the long-term survival of this beautiful and important plant, it is essential to protect its habitat and promote conservation efforts.

In conclusion, Starry Saxifrage is a unique and stunning plant with a rich ecological and cultural significance. Its delicate white star-shaped flowers make it a popular ornamental plant, and its leaves and flowers have been used for medicinal and spiritual purposes for centuries. As we continue to face environmental challenges, it is important to protect and conserve this and other plant species to preserve our natural heritage for future generations.


Here are some additional interesting facts and information about Starry Saxifrage:

  • Starry Saxifrage is a member of the Saxifragaceae family, which includes over 500 species of plants, most of which are found in temperate or arctic regions.
  • The scientific name of Starry Saxifrage, Saxifraga stellaris, comes from the Latin words "saxum" (rock) and "frangere" (to break), which refers to the plant's ability to grow in rocky environments.
  • The plant's small size and ability to grow in rocky areas make it a popular choice for rock gardens and alpine gardens.
  • Starry Saxifrage has a low tolerance for pollution and is often used as an indicator species for the health of alpine environments.
  • In some regions, the leaves and flowers of Starry Saxifrage have been used to make tea or added to salads.
  • The plant's delicate flowers are pollinated by insects such as bees and butterflies, which are attracted to the nectar produced by the flowers.
  • Starry Saxifrage is known to hybridize with other species of Saxifraga, which has led to the development of several cultivars that are popular in horticulture.
  • In some cultures, Starry Saxifrage is associated with themes of purity and innocence due to its white flowers, and has been used in traditional ceremonies and rituals.

Overall, Starry Saxifrage is a fascinating and beautiful plant that has played an important role in human culture and the natural environment. Its delicate flowers and ability to thrive in harsh conditions make it a symbol of resilience and adaptability, and a reminder of the importance of protecting our natural world.

And More

Here are some more interesting facts and information about Starry Saxifrage:

  • Starry Saxifrage is an alpine plant, which means it grows at high altitudes. It is known to grow at elevations of up to 4,500 meters (14,800 feet) in some parts of the world.
  • The plant's leaves contain high levels of tannins, which are compounds that help to protect the plant from predators and environmental stress.
  • Starry Saxifrage has been used in traditional medicine to treat a range of ailments, including coughs, colds, and digestive issues. The plant is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
  • In some regions, Starry Saxifrage is threatened by overgrazing by livestock, which can damage the plant's habitat and reduce its population.​​​​
  • The plant's scientific name, Saxifraga stellaris, is sometimes misspelled as "Saxifraga stellaria" or "Saxifraga stellata". However, the correct spelling is "Saxifraga stellaris".


Starry Saxifrage filmed at Kentmere in the Lake District, 1st June 2023.


Music credits
The Great Unknown by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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