Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage

Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage is a low, spreading plant that lights up damp shady places with a golden glow in spring.
Photo: Steve Townsend


Scientific name: Chrysoplenium oppositifolium

Conservation status: Common, although localised in distribution

What to look for:

  • Flowers: The flowers are small (3 to 4 mm) and golden-yellow in colour, arranged in heads towards the top of the stem
  • Leaves: Many pairs of small round green leaves. Lower leaves are slightly hairy.
  • Height: Each square stem is 5 to 15 cm in length
  • Where: Shady places by streams and in damp woodlands
  • When: Flowers March to July
  • Habit: A creeping plant, with a mat-forming habit

Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage is a mouthful of a name for this pretty creeping perennial of shaded spots in damp woodlands and by streamsides. Its spreading habit (it grows using runners, called stolons) means it can form mats several metres wide, imparting a bright yellow sheen to boggy ground or along the banks of a stream when the plant is in flower. The flowers have no petals – look closely and you’ll see it is the yellowish-green sepals and yellow anthers that are the source of this golden glow.

Did you know…?

…The genus name of Chrysoplenium means ‘golden spleen’, derived from the Greek words chrysos, meaning ‘gold’, and splen, meaning ‘spleen’ (a reference to the spleen-like shape of the leaves).

…The leaves were once thought to be efficacious in treating spleen-related illnesses, but this belief is not based in fact.

More information and references:

Johns, Rev. C.A., 1908. Flowers of the Field. George Routledge & Sons, London.

Rose, F. and O’Reilly, C., 2006. The Wild Flower Key, 2nd edition. Frederick Warne, London.

Stace, C., 2010. New Flora of the British Isles, 3rd edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Published: April 2014
Author: Amanda Scott
Photos: Steve Townsend