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.