Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 26 - White 9 - Saxifrages: of meadow, rocky places and dry walls

Saxifrages are some of our most beautiful flowers I find - their simpleness and roundness of the petals are so peaceful, and the purity of the white. They are easily recognised as saxifages because the ovary (young fruit) fruit has two lobes each with a stigma, and there are ten anthers.
There are various garden varieties. The three white saxifrages we have near Settle grow in delightful places: - all habitats related to their name Saxi -frage- stone-breaking.

All three species grow at Plantlife Nature Reserve Winskill Stones, all within 1/2 mile of the car park, if you but know where to look.  - all with windswept views to Penyghent or West to the Forest of Bowland, or north to Fountains Fell.

And now is the time to look for them

Perhaps the rain that arrived yesterday and today will encourage them after the drought.

Meadow Saxifrage flowers appears for two weeks at the end of May

Meadow Saxifrage - by Poppy Elliot

It can make a good showing if the sheep have been removed from the fieds at flowering time.  (N.B. Most ordinary meadow have been reseeded and heavily fertilised so that it no longer grows in them)
Students on a wildflower course I ran several years ago, relaxing in a field of daisies and meadow saxifrage

2. Mossy Saxifrage   Saxifraga hypnoides
This has divided leaves that look like moss. I took this photo at Winskill Stones on 20 May 2007. So it should be out now.

It grows beside boulders and in the shelter of rocky walls.  It is very special if you find it.

20 May 2007

Here is Bishop Nick (then of Bradford, now of Leeds) admiring Mossy Saxifrage on the way down from Pen y Ghent on 21 June 2011 (at about 7.30 am)

3. Rue-leaved Saxifrage - or Fingered Saxifrage  Saxifraga tri-dactylites

My first and oft repeated experience of finding this tiny plant is in depressions in clints in limestone pavement - usually very romantic and wild and unpolluted habitats. I feel "What a brave and strong and tiny beautiful plant growing in such a potentially harsh situation exposed to wind, sun rain and drought". - And it grows in such situations in Winskill Stones Reserve. 

However ..
It will grow in stress full situations - such as gravel in Settle Industrial Estate on 4 Jan on the NSNI New Year Plant Hunt - the new 2020 plants just starting to flower, on a wall top in a suburban house in Pairs of my penfriend's sister , on the cobbles near Langcliffe village fountain and on the pavement near "Trevor's Market Shop" back this April


See its two stigmas and ten anthers

Rue-leaved Saxifrage near Trevor's Market shop in April (Now gone)
Fingered Saxifrage on cobbles below Coop/ Practically Everything in April

Not - saxifrage at all - it has too many anthers. This is wild strawberry which came out two weeks ago -thesee at the Hoffman Kiln, Langcliffe - but I'll save that for next week/fortnights white flowers... because tomorrow we are going to start the rainbow cycle again 

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