Opposite-Leaved Golden-Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium) — ID Guide

Opposite-Leaved Golden-Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium) – Glóiris Saxifragaceae

A beautiful sign of Spring, low growing and favours damp and shaded habitats, if you’re in a woodland at this time of year, you will possibly see carpets of it.

Opposite-Leaved Golden-Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium) – Oisín Duffy
Opposite-Leaved Golden-Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium) – Oisín Duffy

I spotted this species growing in a shady, wooded area locally in Donegal during February, only some were in flower at this point, but on my most recent visit in April, I have noticed that it is fully in flower. As mentioned above, this usually grows in small clumps to large carpets and brightens up a woodland floor with hues of green and yellow.

Opposite-Leaved Golden-Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium) carpeting an area of woodland – Oisín Duffy
Opposite-Leaved Golden-Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium) carpeting an area of woodland – Oisín Duffy

The actual flowers of the plant are slightly different to the other plants we have covered so far. The plant does not have petals, but rather sepals which surround the reproductive parts of the plant. Sepals are generally found underneath or below petals and are usually green in colour, however there are some occasions were petals are not present and sepals fit almost seamlessly into the role.

Close up of Opposite-Leaved Golden-Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium) – Oisín Duffy
Close up of Opposite-Leaved Golden-Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium) – Oisín Duffy

The leaves of the plant are in opposite pairs (as the name suggests) and slightly rounded with blunt teeth. The leaves can often appear waxy and are generally quite shiny when in direct sunlight (or the flash from the camera) but are actually are wee bit hairy.

Opposite-Leaved Golden-Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium) being dappled by sunlight in a damp, wooded area. – Oisín Duffy
Opposite-Leaved Golden-Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium) being dappled by sunlight in a damp, wooded area. – Oisín Duffy

The plant, while not hard to find (as it clumps and carpets areas) is quite low growing and individuals are small.

Opposite-Leaved Golden-Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium) growing in a small clump in a shaded area. – Oisín Duffy
Opposite-Leaved Golden-Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium) growing in a small clump in a shaded area. – Oisín Duffy

Remember if you find the plant and you’re happy with the identification, you can submit the record to the National Biodiversity Data Centre who with the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland are currently running a Spring Flowers Project

Remember if you have any ideas for future posts or if you want help with identification you can ask me on Twitter @OshDuffy.

Oisín Duffy
About Oisín Duffy 23 Articles
Oisín Duffy is an ecologist and environmental educator with a special interest in the Flora of Ireland and Pollinators. He is the photographer and co-author of Biodiversity Ireland’s identification guide on “Trees and Shrubs”. He has a BA from NUIG and an MSc from NUIG and UL. Oisín is an active biological recorder, and current Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) Vice-county recorder for East Donegal (H34) and participates in a number of recording schemes run by the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC), Bat Conservation Ireland (BCI) and others. In 2016, Oisín worked in conjunction with the National Biodiversity Data Centre to develop a plant monitoring scheme for Ireland. During the Summer of 2016, he toured Ireland giving workshops for the Irish Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. His most recent work has been as a photographer and author of the “Wildflowers in South Armagh”.

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