SAXIFRAGACEAE - The Saxifrage Family

This family contains around 1250 species in 80 different genera. They are found worldwide, with many coming from northern temperate regions. They are mainly perennial herbs and shrubs, some evergreen, with only a few annuals or small trees. As well as the type plant, the tiny Saxifrage, the Family includes many common garden plants, including Hydrangea, Astilbe, Bergenia, Heuchera, Deutzia and Escallonia. Some soft fruits (currants and gooseberries) used to be included in this Family, but have now been separated into a new Family, Grossulariaceae.

Characteristics of this Plant Family:

Leaves, Stem & Roots ~ The stems of some species are woody. The Family includes both evergreen and deciduous species. The leaves are usually simple and alternate, but are sometimes compound or deeply notched or cut, and may be opposite. In many species of Saxifrage, they are close together in basal rosettes.

Flowers ~ The calyx is usually made up of five sepals, but sometimes four. The flowers are regular, with usually five (sometimes four) separate petals. They may be in clusters or solitary. There are usually twice as many stamens as petals, sometimes more.

Seeds ~ The ovary may be superior or inferior, and the fruit is usually a small capsule (but sometimes a berry) containing many small seeds.

Members of this Family usually have:

Opposite or alternate leaves
Flowers with five unjoined petals
Twice as many stamens as petals
A small seed capsule containing many small seeds

and are usually perennial herbs and shrubs

Back to the Introduction to Plant Families