starry saxifrage

Saxifrage

[sak-suh-frij]
See HMS Saxifrage for ship names. For the fictional character, see Sax Russell.

Saxifraga is a plant genus with about 440 known species of perennials, making it the largest genus in the family Saxifragaceae.

The Latin word Saxifraga comes from Latin saxum, "rock", and frangere, "to break". These plants are known for their ability to settle in the cracks of rocks.

The following sections of the genus are currently recognised:

Saxifrages are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Grey Chi and Hebrew Character.

Cultivation and uses

The hybrid Saxifraga × urbium (London Pride) is commonly grown as an ornamental plant.

Mentions in Literature

  • In William Carlos Williams' famous poem "A Sort of a Song," Williams refers to his idea of perception (to see through the metaphorical rock, see into the essence of the object, "no ideas but in things") when he writes "Invent! Saxifrage is my flower that splits the rocks."
  • In Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy the character Sax Russel, an atmospheric scientist sent to Mars as part of Earth's first colony attempt on the red planet, is named after this plant. There are several references to this plant genus and Robinson uses the plant's common name "stonebreaker" and descriptions of the flower to describe aspects of Russel's personality.

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