The flowers of early saxifrage arise at the tops of leafless stems (scapes), begin blooming when only 3–4 inches tall, and continue while growing to 1 foot tall. At first, flowers are in tight clusters, becoming looser with time. Each flower has 5 white, pointed petals and 10 stamens. Blooms February–June. Leaves in a basal rosette, fleshy, ovate, narrowing toward the base, with scalloped margins.
Similar species: Texas saxifrage (M. texana) is similar but is more often found in the southwestern part of the Ozarks (southwestern Missouri). It blooms April–May and is most common on sandstone and chert glades. Forbes's saxifrage (M. pensylvanica var. forbesii) has green, very small flowers, on stalks to 3 feet tall, in wide-spreading clusters. Its basal leaves are up to 8 inches long, ovate, the edges slightly wavy. It blooms April–June and usually grows on moist, north-facing sandstone bluffs in east-central Missouri, from Boone to Lincoln to St. Francois counties. It is rare in our state but usually abundant where encountered.