Brook saxifrage (Micranthes odontoloma) flowers have an intricate structure. Five red sepals surround 5 white short-lived petals, 10 white stamens and a superior red or purple ovary. Each petal has a threadlike base and two yellow or greenish spots. The stamens are long, narrow filaments that resemble petals and are topped by yellow or reddish brown anthers. The ovary is made up of two protruding lobes with a small style atop each lobe. These small brook saxifrage flowers are arranged as a loose cyme (branched inflorescence where the top flowers mature before the lower flowers) at the top of a leafless, reddish to purple stem.
Brook saxifrage is a native perennial. The plant arises from rhizomes. The basal leaves have stalks that are several times longer than the leaf blades, which are coarsely toothed around the margins. The fruit is a capsule, usually purplish, containing small brown seeds.
Found from the Rockies west in the United States and Canada, brook saxifrage grows in mountains and subalpine forests from 6,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation. Its ecology is streambeds, seepage areas and snowbeds.
Another synonym for M. odontoloma is Saxifraga odontoloma. Taxonomists do not agree on the genus, although Micranthes appears to be the currently more accepted. Micranthes comes from Latin and means “little flower”. The species name, odontoloma, is Greek and means “tooth fringe” (odon = tooth and loma = fringe), probably referring to the leaf margins.
Stream saxifrage and streambank saxifrage are two other colloquial names for M. odontoloma.
I know of no medicinal or culinary uses for brook saxifrage.
These specimens were photographed in August along Kings Creek in the Upper Kings Creek Meadow at Lassen Volcanic National Park.