1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Saxifrage

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
[ 264 ]

SAXIFRAGE (Saxifraga), a genus of plants which gives its name to the order of which it is a member. There are nearly 200 species distributed in the temperate and arctic parts of the northern hemisphere, frequently at considerable heights on the mountains, and also found on the Andes. They are mostly herbs with perennial rootstocks and leaves in tufts or scattered on the flower-stalks. The arrangement of the flowers is very various, as also are the size and colour of the flowers themselves. They have a flat or more or less cup-shaped receptacle, from the margin of which spring five sepals, five petals and ten (or rarely five) stamens. The pistil is often partly adherent to the receptacle, and is divided above into two styles; the ovules are numerous, attached to axile placentas; and the seed-vessel is capsular. Fifteen species are natives of Britain, some alpine plants of great beauty (S. oppositifolia, S. nivalis, S. aizoides, &c.), and others, like S. granulata, frequenting meadows and low ground, while S. tridactylites may be found on almost any dry wall. S. umbrosa is London Pride or St Patrick's Cabbage, a common garden plant, a native of the Spanish Peninsula and also of the mountains of W. and S.W. Ireland. Many species are in cultivation, including the Bergenias or Megaseas with their large fleshy leaves and copious panicles of rosy or pink flowers, the numerous alpine species, such as S. pyramidalis, S. cotyledon, &c., with tall panicles studded with white flowers, and many others, most of them adapted for rockwork.