Purple saxifrage Facts

Purple saxifrage Facts
Purple saxifrage is flowering plant that belongs to the saxifrage family. It can be found in the area of Arctic Circle, in Alaska, Rocky Mountains, Alps, northern Britain and northern Greenland. Purple saxifrage inhabits gravely and rocky areas and stream banks. It grows on calciferous soils, on the rocks and cliffs. Experiment designed to examine effect of increased temperature on the growth of purple saxifrage in the wild showed that this plant would not be able to compete with other plants after colonization of the "warmed" Arctic. That's why climate changes represent the major threat for the survival of purple saxifrage in the wild.
Interesting Purple saxifrage Facts:
Purple saxifrage grows in the form of cushion (dense mat) on the ground. It has short stem that can reach 0.8 to 2 inches in height.
Purple saxifrage has strong taproot with numerous, small lateral roots. Taproot can reach 20 inches in depth.
Slightly woody branches and low growth of purple saxifrage are essential for the survival in extremely cold environment.
Purple saxifrage develops tiny over-lapping grayish-green leaves shaped like scales. They are arranged in opposite rows composed of 4 leaves. Leaves are fleshy and covered with tiny, rigid hairs on the edges.
Purple saxifrage produces large (compared to leaves), funnel-shaped purple flowers on the short stalks. Flowers grow solitary, above the leaves. They contain both types of reproductive organs (perfect flowers). All flowers open at once and they last 10 to 14 days.
Purple saxifrage blooms from June to August. Flowers appear after melting of snow. Purple saxifrage is one of the first plants that bloom on the Arctic. Flowers are fragrant and they attract bumble bees, moths, butterflies and flies, main pollinators of this species. In the case that pollinators are not available, purple saxifrage performs self-pollination.
Fruit of purple saxifrage is 2-parted capsule. Fruit ripens 54 days after pollination.
Name "saxifrage" means "rock-breaker" in Latin, and it refers to ability of plant to grow from the rocks.
Flowers are rich source of vitamin C and have sweet taste. They are part of Inuit diet.
Purple saxifrage is source of green, yellow and creamy dyes.
Inuit use blooming period of purple saxifrage as a reminder of calving in caribou herds.
Purple saxifrage is one of the seven species that is monitored in the international scientific study (International Tundra Experiment) which examines effect of climate changes on the growth and reproduction of arctic plants.
Purple saxifrage is covered with flecks of calcium carbonate in the lime rich areas. These flecks provide protection against solar radiation and wind.
Purple saxifrage is territorial flower of Nunavut (Canada), Nordland county (Norway) and county flower of County Londonderry (Northern Ireland).
Purple saxifrage is perennial plant that can survive many decades in the wild.

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