- Part shade
Chrysosplenium alternifolium is a species of flowering plants in the saxifrage (Saxifragaceae) family, commonly known as the alternate-leaved golden saxifrage. It is native to Europe, in the cooler climate countries. Its natural habitat is streamsides, ditch verges, mixed swamps, bogs, woodland seeps, waterside meadows and wetlands. It flowers very early in the year as soon as the snow has melted, before the leaves appear on trees to block the sun, while the woodland is relatively unshaded.
The alternate-leaved golden saxifrage is a low growing perennial, hardly reaching heights of over 10 cm. Hence it's common name the leaves are alternate, kidney-shaped, stalked at the top of the stems as if they were holding the inflorescence, sparsley pubescent, green-yellowish with crenate margins. The inflorescence is corymb, corolla is absent. The flowers are yellow lime-green, small and have fused petals, found wide open right above the stacked leaves. The fruit is a capsule that opens in a bowl-like shape, the seeds are dark-brown and shiny. Seeds get dispersed by water spalshes striking the plant. It thrives in water retaining soils, such as clay and very rich habitats.
The thin flat tops and the colors of Chrysosplenium are unmistakable and highly ornamental. The mat-like appearance that really stands out makes this plant a wonderful choice for natural, meadow or woodland, planting design. The landscape architects and designers may also find it useful along ponds, streams and wetlands or as groundcover.
The leaves are edible and used fresh in salads, however the seeds are believed to be poisonous.
Chrysosplenium alternifolium is in decline through a large part of its range because of the decrease of suitable wetland habitat, it is currently protected in several areas of France.
Not to be confused with Chrysosplenium oppositifolium, which is smaller and forms thicker clusters. You may also find Chrysosplenium reminding you of Euphorbia, its colors and almost leaf-like flowers. However the flat tops forming carpet-like clusters should make this golden saxifrage fairly easy to identify.
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