Perennial herb 20 cm - 0.6 m tall Leaves: basal, 2 - 7 cm long, 1.5 - 4.5 cm wide, egg-shaped to nearly rounded with a rounded to nearly heart-shaped base and a blunt to short pointed tip, stiff and leathery, the blade continuing beyod the base down the stem (decurrent). Flowers: borne solitary at the end of the flowering stem, having five petals 1 - 1.8 cm long with several strong veins. The white modified stamens do not produce pollen (staminodia) are three-pronged and a little shorter than the five stamens. Fruit: a cone- to egg-shaped, four-valved capsule containing many oblong seeds. Flowering stem: arising from base of plant, hairless, having zero or one leaf near the base, the leaf stalkless or nearly so with a blade that is smaller but similar to the basal leaves.
Similar species: Saxifraga pensylvanica has leaves more than twice as long as wide, a hairy flowering stem, and an inflorescence of flowers in which each flower has ten stamens and a two-chambered ovary.
Flowering: mid August to early October
Habitat and ecology: Locally frequent in calcareous springs and interdunal flats near Lake Michigan. Habitat destruction is leading to reduced frequency of this species.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Parnassia is named after Mount Parnassus in Greece. Glauca refers to a whitish waxy coating.
Plants 2-4 dm; blades of basal lvs stiff and leathery, ovate to round-ovate, 3-5 נ1.5-4.5 cm, blunt to subacute, at base broadly rounded to subcordate, decurrent on the upper part of the petiole; cauline lf usually present, at or well below the middle, sessile or short-petioled, the blade like the basal ones but smaller; pet sessile, 10-18 mm, with several strong veins, the central 5 usually unbranched; staminodes white, 4-7 mm, a little shorter than the stamens, 3- parted for 3/5 or 4/5 their length; 2n=32. Calcareous bogs, shores, and wet meadows; Nf. and Que. to Sask., s. to N.J., Pa., Ind., Io., and S.D. Aug., Sept. (P. americana; P. caroliniana, misapplied)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
This species is found only in wet, marly areas about lakes and in the outlets of springs. It is almost invariably associated with Lobelia kalmii. Infrequent to frequent throughout the lake area, becoming rare or absent in the southern part of the state.