Micranthes texana (Buckley) Small


Micranthes texana plant

Family - Saxifragaceae

Stems - From a bulbous fleshy whitish cormlike base with fibrous roots, clumping. Scape to +/-7cm tall, sparse to densely pilose,(some of the hairs with reddish glandular apices), herbaceous, erect.

Micranthes texana stem

Leaves - Basal, petiolate, +/-2cm long, +/-1.2cm broad, firm and crisp, often with reddish margins, glabrous and entire but with strigillose margins, ovate, rounded at apex, with slightly undulate margins. Petiole short, flattened, +/-5mm long.

Micranthes texana leaves

Inflorescence - Terminal compact capitate cluster of cymules.(Say that five times fast). Each cymule subtended by a thin linear bract. Bracts often reddish near apex. Branches of inflorescence pilose.

Micranthes texana inflorescence

Flowers - Petals 5, white, distinct, glabrous, subrotund, to 3mm in diameter. Stamens 10, arising from base of petals and sepals. Filaments to 1.5mm long, glabrous, greenish-white. Anthers orange, 1mm long. Ovary inferior. 3-carpellate. Placentation axile. Ovules many. Styles 3, green, 1.3mm long. Calyx tube turbinate, 2mm long, 5-lobed, glabrous. Lobes +/-3mm long, 2mm broad, glabrous, rounded to subacute at apex, often with a minute reddish tip.

Micranthes texana flowerFlower close-up.

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Sandstone glades and rocky prairies.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - Although the woodland plants are typically the harbingers of spring, this little glade plant blooms with or before all of them. The small clusters of white flowers stand out on their rocky substrata and typically the plant occurs in large colonies. This plant can be distinguished from the related Saxifraga virginiesis Michx. in that it stays small and compact even after flowering. The latter plant gets quite a bit taller and also occurs in more western counties of the state. Micranthes texana occurs in the southeastern corner of Missouri.

Photographs taken at Dave Rock Conservation Area, St. Clair County, MO., 4-3-04.