Plants loosely mat-forming, (stems trailing), not stoloniferous, with elongate caudex or rhizomatous. Leaves cauline, (marcescent, crowded proximally); petiole absent; blade (often reddish), linear to cuneate, 1-3-lobed or -toothed apically (distal cauline unlobed), rarely all unlobed, (lobes long spinose-mucronate), 5-20 mm, leathery, margins entire, softly glandular-ciliate, (nonsecreting hydathodes present adaxially), apex acute, long spinose-mucronate, surfaces glabrous. Inflorescences 3-10-flowered cymes, 4-10(-24) cm, white to sparsely pink- to purple-tipped stipitate-glandular; bracts sessile. Flowers: sepals erect to ascending, (sometimes purplish), triangular-ovate, margins f glandular-ciliate, surfaces white to purple-tipped stipitate-glandular; petals white to cream, proximally to distally yellow-, orange-, and red-spotted, elliptic to ovate, 4-7 mm, much longer than sepals; ovary superior. 2n = 26. Flowering late spring-summer. Open sandy, gravelly, or rocky sites, forest openings, grassy slopes, rocky ridges, stony tundra; 0-3000 m; Greenland; Alta., B.C., Man., Nfld. and Labr. (Labr.), N.W.T., Nunavut, Ont., Que., Sask., Yukon; Alaska , Mich. The rare, entire-leaved form of Saxifraga tricuspidata can be confused with S. bronchialis; it has glandular-ciliate margins instead of stiffly hooked-ciliate ones.
Stems 1-2 dm from a branching caudex; lvs of the basal shoots crowded, narrowly oblong to obovate-oblong, 1-2 cm, sessile, ciliate, terminating in 3 erect, sharp, stiff teeth; cauline lvs few, remote, 3-10 mm, often entire; cyme convex, 2-5 cm wide; pet white, 6-7 mm; 2n=26. Rocky places; circumboreal, s. to Lab., n. Mich., and B.C. July, Aug. (Leptasea t.)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.