Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Taking Advantage of Us

Rue-leaved Saxifrage, Saxifraga tridactylites
One of the smallest saxifrages present in Ireland, the Rue-leaved Saxifrage (Saxifraga tridactylites), is commonly found on dry grasslands or hedgebanks. It is noticeable at this time of the year as it is coming into flower, producing small, white blossoms forming on stems arising from the finger like leaves (hence the name tridactylites name, literally "three fingered"). There are more than one flowering stem per plant, in contrast to some of the other saxifrages which have just one stem per plant (1). In the past c. 50 years, it has shown a marked increase in its range across Europe, an increase associated with its colonisation of man-made habitats such as limestone walls, spaces in footpaths and in particular railway constructions (2). Such expansion is in marked contrast to many other plant species that are declining in numbers due to habitat destruction and fragmentation and the intensification of land use practices. S. tridactylites will continue to flower from now till May-June, when the annual plants will set seed and die off.

Rue-leaved Saxifrage, Saxifraga tridactylites

  1. Phillips, 1977. Wildflowers of Britain p. 30
  2. Reisch, 2007. Conservation Genetics 8 pp. 893-902

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