"Saxifrage" means "rock breaker".  The name is most likely derived from one or both of the following:  
1) Saxifrage Family members often grow in rocky, stony areas.
2) Since Saxifrage grows in stony areas it was believed that it would therefore have a medicinal use for breaking kidney stones.  (This supposed relationship between a plant's place of growth, shape, or other characteristics, with its use in human medicine is called "the doctrine of signatures".)

    The Saxifraga genus has about 400 species worldwide, about 70 in North America.  Some species occur (according to Intermountain Flora) on the "north  coast of Greenland as far north as any flowering plant can survive".

Saxifraga austromontana.
: Ciliaria austromontana, Saxifraga bronchialis subspecies austromontana. (Dotted Saxifrage)

Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage Family)

Subalpine. Streamsides. Summer.
Lizard Head Trail, July 11, 2008.

Cilaria austromontana

Cilaria austromontana

Cilaria austromontana

Saxifraga austromontana. Synonyms: Ciliaria austromontana, Saxifraga bronchialis subspecies austromontana. (Dotted Saxifrage)
Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage Family)

Subalpine. Rocks. Summer.
Lizard Head Trail, July 6, 2005.
Sharkstooth Trail, July 18, 2005.
Colorado Trail near Kennebec, September 4, 2007.
Lake Hope Trail, August 11, 2009.

The tiny leaves of dotted Saxifrage form a moss-like mat, cascading over the edge of rocks.  Three to six inch flower stems bear few to many flowers depending on growing conditions.  Red and orange dots ornament the interior of the petals.

This is a beautiful, delicate plant that needs a hands-and-knees look. Saxifraga austromontana might be confused with Eremogone fendleri

In 1753 Linnaeus named this genus and he named this species, Saxifraga bronchialis. In 1900 Wiegand renamed this species Saxifraga austromontana and that is the name accepted by John Kartesz, ultimate authority for all names on this web site.  In 1982 William Weber reassigned this species to the Cilaria genus (first named by Adrian Haworth in 1821). 

"Austromontana" is a common species name meaning "of the southern mountains", and "ciliaria", from the Latin for "small fringing of hairs", refers to the hairs on the leaf margins.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Questionable presence

Range map for Saxifraga austromontana