The Middle Ridge Trail at Little Buffalo State Park is marked with red blazes. It’s a difficult trail because of the steep terrain in some places.
Fewer people travel this path as noted by the width of the trail. Perhaps that’s because the level of difficulty or the fact this area of the park is open to hunting. Maybe it’s location on the north side of the park is too far from the popular Day Use Area. That’s too bad as one wild flower blooms here that many people may not get to see elsewhere in the park – Early Saxifrage, Saxifraga virginiensis.
Early saxifrage was plentiful on the west end of the Middle Ridge Trail.
Nearly all the white flowers on the west-facing slope in the image above are Early Saxifrage.
Clusters of early saxifrage flowers have a star-like appearance.
The upper left cluster in the image above shows the branching of the flower cluster and the woolly flower stem. The flower stalks may reach 10 to 16 inches tall.
Leaves of early saxifrage are mostly basal ones. Very small lance-like stem leaves may or may not be present. The oval basal leaves have scalloped edges. In the image below you can see the flower stalks rising up from the group of basal leaves.
Note that the flower stalks are hairy or fuzzy with hairs.
Flowers of early saxifrage occur in clusters at the top of the flower stem. The five-petaled white flowers are small, only a quarter-inch in width. Small yellow-tipped stamens are visible inside the flower heads.
Blossoms are at the tip of the flower stalk that rises up from the basal leaves. Note in the image above that there is one stem leaf at the point where a secondary flower stem branches from the main flower stem.
Besides the western end of Middle Ridge Trail at Little Buffalo State Park, we’ve seen Early Saxifrage on wooded hillsides along country roads.
Cohorts included blooming spring beauty, rue anemone, fairy wings, ferns and hepatica (already bloomed).
Spring beauty was blooming at the same time and place as Early Saxifrage.
Rue anemone was blooming at the same time and place as Early Saxifrage.
Early Saxifrage bloomed at least from the 15th to the 23rd of April in south-central Pennsylvania.