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First sign of Spring

Fri, April 01, 2016

Purple Saxifrage

Last week just as the snow was melting I saw my first Purple Saxifrage of the year. After a winter without flowers it was a fantastic sight. Purple Saxifrage is a beautiful plant that grows in rocky mountainous areas and mountain heathland. It has been chosen for international monitoring to help study climate change. The experiment so far has shown that a rapid warming of the planet would be particularly destructive for Purple Saxifrage and similar plants.

Some interesting facts:
• It has a strong taproot system which can reach a depth of 20 inches!
• It grows low to the ground with woody branches making it excellent in cold conditions.
• The fragrant flowers appear after the snow has melted and are great at attracting bees, butterflies, moths and flies. However, if pollinators are not available then the plant can self-pollinate.
• The flowers form part of the Inuit diet as they are sweet and rich in vitamin C.
• The blooming period is also used as a reminder for Inuit that caribou will be calving.
• Purple Saxifrage is a source of green, yellow and creamy dyes.