Name: Wholeleaf Saxifrage
Scientific Name: Micranthes integrifolia
Today’s plant is one of the earliest spring plants to rise from the ground and bloom in the lower to middle elevations of the Blue Mountains. It is found from west of the Cascades and British Columbia, to Eastern Washington and Northeastern Oregon, and in Montana. It is usually found at middle elevations in the Blues, starting around the middle of April, so this year it will likely show up a bit later.
This plant is one of 32 Micranthes species in western North America, nine of which are in Eastern Oregon. All 32 species were moved from the genus Saxifraga to Micranthes a few years ago. The name Micranthes comes from the Latin micra meaning small, and anthes for flower, hence the genus name translates as “small flowered.” The Latin integrifolius means having entire or smooth-edged leaves.
Micranthes integrifolia has small white flowers one-eighth of an inch long, which are mostly in a cluster at the top of a single erect stem about 6 to 15 inches high. The flower cluster has tiny reddish-tipped hair-like glands. The leaves are clustered at the base of the plant, are oval or egg-shaped with somewhat rounded tips and smooth edges. The leaf stems are usually all shorter than the rounded leaves.
Where to find: Look for it at middle elevations in open meadows in the spring when not much is out and blooming yet, which this year is hard to predict.