Saxifraga spathularis
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Saxifraga spathularis: A Delicate Beauty of the Rocks

Saxifraga spathularis, known by various names such as St Patrick’s Cabbage, Robertsoniana Saxifrage, Prattling Parnell, Pyrenean Saxifrage, or in Irish Cabáiste mhadra rua, belongs to the Saxifragaceae family of plants. This perennial wildflower is native to Portugal, Spain, and Ireland.

Description: Saxifraga spathularis, also referred to as “stone breaker” in Latin, is a resilient plant that thrives in a humid rocky landscape. It blooms from May to August, gracing its surroundings with delicate beauty. The plant exhibits a spreading habit and is stoloniferous, characterized by its horizontal stem above the ground that aids in the production of vertical stems and roots at the nodes.

The thick green leaves of Saxifraga spathularis are elliptic with zig-zag edges, forming an attractive rosette. During the summer, panicles of star-shaped flowers emerge, boasting five petals in shades of pink or white. These charming blossoms are often adorned with dark pink or red spots, adding a touch of whimsy to the plant’s overall appearance.

Saxifraga spathularis produces ellipsoid capsules that contain seeds, contributing to its propagation and continued growth in suitable habitats.

Cultivation of Saxifraga spathularis:

Light: Saxifraga spathularis thrives in partial shade, making it ideal for gardens with areas of filtered sunlight. Providing the plant with the appropriate light conditions ensures its well-being and encourages optimal growth and flowering.

Soil: Plant Saxifraga spathularis in moist, well-drained soil. While the plant is adaptable to various soil types, it generally prefers acidic conditions with high rainfall, usually exceeding 1m or 3ft.

Size: When in bloom, Saxifraga spathularis reaches a height of approximately 40cm or 16in, showcasing its delicate flowers and lush foliage.

Saxifraga spathularis holds a place within the Lusitanian flora, a group of 15 plant species found in Ireland and the Iberian Peninsula. Interestingly, these plants are absent in England and Western France, despite the similar habitats shared by these regions. Notable members of the Lusitanian flora include the Strawberry Tree and Irish Fleabane.

The unique charm and adaptability of Saxifraga spathularis make it an enchanting addition to gardens and landscapes. By providing partial shade, moist well-drained soil, and suitable growing conditions, you can appreciate the beauty of this delicate rock-dwelling plant as it graces its surroundings with its vibrant flowers and resilient presence.

Saxifraga spathularis
Prattling Parnell or Saxifraga spathularis
Saxifraga spathularis
St Patrick’s Cabbage or Saxifraga spathularis
Saxifraga spathularis
Pink flowers of Saxifraga spathularis
Saxifraga spathularis
Saxifraga spathularis at Kew Garden, London, UK

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