Saxifraga bronchialis

Two people to thank for the photographs today. The first image is from Anne Elliott, aka annkelliott@Flickr (original image via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool), while the second image is from Anna Kadlec@UBC Botanical Garden forums: (original via the Botany Photo of the Day Submissions Forum). Thanks to both of you!

Spotted or matted saxifrage has a western North American – eastern Eurasian distribution, where it preferentially grows in rocky areas of mid- to high elevations. It is perennial, typically reaching 20cm (8in.) in height. The word Saxifraga means “stone-breaker”, a characteristic well-illustrated in Anna’s other photograph. Webb and Gornall in A Manual of Saxifrages explain the epithet bronchialis was thought by Gmelin (in 1769) to be derived “from information given to Linnaeus that the plant was used by the natives of Siberia as a cure for respiratory complaints”.

The authors also note that this was likely one of the last species to be named by Linnaeus for his Species Plantarum, as there are no herbarium specimens in the Linnean herbarium, London bearing this species name. The likeliest explanation is that the specimen LINN 575.37, named as Saxifraga aspera on the sheet, was recognized by Linnaeus as being a different species (and he named it Saxifraga bronchialis in the book). However, upon assertion that it was a different species, Linnaeus should also have annotated (written a note on) the sheet with the new name, and it appears he neglected to do so. In other words, Linnaeus published the name Saxifraga bronchialis without a physical specimen to back it up (generally a naming no-no), unless one makes the positive assumption that he intended to add the name to that specimen but forgot.

Saxifraga bronchialis
Saxifraga bronchialis

10 responses to “Saxifraga bronchialis”

  1. Claire

    Great picture! Beatiful plant. Great website! Would I find this in western washington state? That is where I live. Can’t wait to visit more of BC and Alberta. Thanks for this wonderful website. Claire

  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Claire, yes — it is found throughout western Washington, including all three of the national parks.

  3. Jamie

    Lovely! Would this grow in San Francisco? I’m in a sunny area.

  4. Maggie Paquet

    This is the lovely little plant that made me love my botany labs. Thanks for reminding me of that flash of joy I felt when I first looked at this one under the dissecting scope all those years ago!

  5. Robert Frost

    Wow! I am almost moved to tears by the simple beauty of this little gem. It is glorious.

  6. Vic Stapel

    Very cute nearly like a Clown Make up full of colors

  7. Margaret-Rae Davis

    It is so nice to see 2 very interesting photos. I really like the spots and this makes in unusual to see in other floweres.
    Thank you,

  8. Debby

    If you google images of “candy dots on paper” you’ll see what the photo instantly brought to my mind! Cheers!

  9. nina

    what a beauty …. !

  10. elizabeth a airhart

    a lovely lovey flower -thats not botony talk
    just the way i feel sometimes when a flower
    like this comes my way thank you
    google the above and ask for books two or three
    older books come up and most interesting
    the natural history museum in london england
    the linnaeon project hope the funds have not
    been cut great web site bonjour

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