An alpine mystery...

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Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27
An alpine mystery...

I saw this the other day on an alpine hike, on a scree slope that is somewhat wettish from snow melt running through it.
The leaves ought to make it pretty easy, but I have compared to what I thought were the likely suspects and not yet found a match. It appears to have 5 stamens from what I can tell (rather than the 10 of Saxifraga spp.).
Anyone know what it is?

Tim Ingram
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-04-27

Lori - the leaves look like Lithophragma and the only (poor) image I could find suggests heterophylla - most species have more cut petals. I grew one of these species years ago but didn't look at it very closely.

Dr. Timothy John Ingram
Faversham, Kent, UK
I garden in a relatively hot and dry region (for the UK!), with an annual rainfall of around 25", winter lows of -10°C and summer highs of 30°C.
 

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Thanks, Tim.  That was one of my first thoughts, due to the unusual leaves.  However, I don't believe it is either Lithophragma parviflorum or L. glabrum, the two species that one might find here (though I have not seen them yet).  The petals should be 3-5-cleft, and don't think the inflorescence structure fits.
I think it is Saxifragaceae though.
"Stamens 5, petals present and entire" leads me, in the key, to Suksdorfia and Conimitella (which is more Heuchera-like)... I don't think those are right either.
Hmmm, am I fooling myself that it is not Saxifraga?

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Looks like Romanzoffia sitchensis to me, a member of the Hydrophyllaceae (think Hydrophyllum & Phacelia), although the whole family is subsumed under Boraginaceae by some authorities (The Plant List), although most North American taxonomic authorities retain Hydrophyllaceae.

http://www.pnwflowers.com/flower/romanzoffia-sitchensis
http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?query_src=photos_index&rel-t...
... this photo looks very similar to your photo:
http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?enlarge=0000+0000+0711+1944

Cute little thing, isn't it!  When I lived in Washington State, this was one of my favorite little "findlings", one of the lesser known small genera that are very much worth growing.

More links:
http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection.php?Genus=...
http://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/ShowDBImage/gallery.aspx?page=0&specrep=0&code...
...from this link looks like it gets very close to Alberta (map showing populations in British Columbia)
http://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/Atlas/Atlas.aspx?sciname=Romanzoffia%20sitchensis

In the link above, range is given as "Moist to wet cliffs and talus slopes from the upper montane to alpine zones; frequent on Vancouver Island, less frequent on the Queen Charlotte Islands, Cascade Mountains and SE BC; N to SE AK, E to AB and S to ID, MT and N CA"; I'm assuming that the "E to AB" reference means East to Alberta.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Thanks, Mark!  That seems to be it.  Finally, I see the elusive mistmaiden... cute, indeed!

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

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