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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Nodding Saxifrage - Saxifraga cernua

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S3S4
(see State Rank Reason below)
C-value: 8

Agency Status


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State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Numerous collections from Granite, Missoula, Madison, Beaverhead, Glacier, Park, Deer Lodge counties. Not particularly rare.

Probably currently secure in its high elevation habitats.
General Description
Short-lived, fibrous-rooted perennial. Stems erect, 4–20 cm, glabrous to glandular. Leaves basal and cauline, petiolate; the blades reniform, 5–15 mm wide with 3 to 7 shallow lobes, glabrous, with rice-like bulblets in basal axils and small purple bulblets in the cauline axils. Inflorescence a glandular raceme or panicle with all but the terminal flower replaced by purple bulblets. Flower: calyx cup-shaped with lobes 1–2 mm long; hypanthium ca. 1 mm long; petals white, 5–8 mm long, oblanceolate; ovary inferior. Capsule rarely maturing (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Differs from Saxifraga debile in having bulblets in the cauline leaf axils. In this character, it resembles Saxifraga ferruginea, but that species tends to have several, not one, flower and small flower parts.

Species Range

Range Comments
Circumpolar south to WA, NV, NM and SD (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 13

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Moist or wet, gravelly, sparsely-vegetated soil of wet cliffs, turf, boulder fields; upper subalpine, alpine (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Nodding Saxifrage — Saxifraga cernua.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from