Montana Outdoors

June 5, 2013

Lewisia rediviva ~ Bitterroot

Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , , — montucky @ 10:17 pm

The Bitterroots are in bloom!

Bitterroot

Bitterroot

Bitterroot

Bitterroot

Bitterroot

Bitterroot

Bitterroot

Bitterroot

Bitterroot

Bitterroot, Lewisia rediviva

The genus name, Lewisia, commemorates Meriweather Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition who first collected it in 1806 in what is now Montana. He pressed and dried one and when it was examined months later it still showed signs of life, and when planted, promptly grew. Its species name then was given as rediviva, meaning ‘restored to life’.

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44 Comments »

  1. Beautiful! We can only grow Lewisias via alpine nurseries (cultivated versions). To find these in the wild is wonderful! That’s an amazing story about the specimen that survived so long!

    Like

    Comment by Jo Woolf — June 6, 2013 @ 12:00 am

    • They are a part of our history and folklore here, but their numbers are much smaller than they used to be.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2013 @ 7:24 pm

  2. That was a lovely little flower ! And i appreciate your informative text about this Lewisia or Bitterroot // Maria

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    Comment by mariayarri — June 6, 2013 @ 2:17 am

    • I’m glad that you enjoyed it Maria. They are one of the prettiest blossoms around here.

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      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2013 @ 7:26 pm

  3. A pretty flower with interesting information. I wonder if the root is really bitter. If so it was most likely a plant used medicinally by Native Americans. Then that gets me wondering if Lewis tasted it-otherwise how would he have known about the root’s bitteness. I love plants that lead you down these paths to knowledge.

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    Comment by New Hampshire Gardener — June 6, 2013 @ 3:52 am

    • The Indians dig the roots in early spring before them became too bitter, but Lewis and Clark reported that they were too bitter for their taste. The members of the nearest Indian tribe here still have a bitterroot feast each spring although I don’t know where they find all of the plants.

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      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

  4. I have never seen this one, but it is very beautiful.

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    Comment by bentehaarstad — June 6, 2013 @ 4:57 am

    • Its distribution is limited to 10 of the western states of the U.S. and the two westernmost provinces of Canada.

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      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2013 @ 7:30 pm

  5. More amazing Nature for us, Terry…it looks quite exotic, like it doesn’t belong out in the wilds of Montana, but maybe inside of a greenhouse where it can be pampered and nursed into its beauty. Very nice…and thank you for the interesting tidbits about its naming.

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    Comment by seekraz — June 6, 2013 @ 6:49 am

    • It does look too pretty and fragile for its natural habitat which is very harsh, on very dry and barren prairie land.

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      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

  6. Amazing flower.
    Thanks for sharing that interesting info about it too.

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    Comment by victoriaaphotographyictoria — June 6, 2013 @ 6:49 am

    • Like the cactus flowers of the southwestern deserts they live in very dry prairie soil and have beautiful, waxy blossoms that one would not expect from that kind of habitat.

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      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2013 @ 7:46 pm

  7. Now that’s neat! I really enjoy learning new bits of information from you about all of these wildflowers. I’m always drawn to purple flowers for some reason, so of course, I loved this one.

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    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — June 6, 2013 @ 7:32 am

    • They are strange. The leaves of the plant wither and disappear before the blossoms open and they sit right flat on the ground. All you see is the blossoms and buds.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2013 @ 7:47 pm

  8. What a beautiful choice for the state flower. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. I don’t suppose there’s any sign of them left in October? That’s when we usually go to Montana. Not the time for blooms, I guess. So glad to see them on your blog.

    Like

    Comment by wordsfromanneli — June 6, 2013 @ 7:48 am

    • No, they will be gone in another week or so. Theirs is a short blooming season. I wish you could see them though!

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      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

      • Do you have any photos of the foliage that shows what the plant looks like when it’s not flowering?

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        Comment by wordsfromanneli — June 6, 2013 @ 8:05 pm

        • I do not. The small amount of foliage it has looks like a that of a succulent. The leaves wither and die away just before the flowers bloom and after blooming the petals and seeds disperse by wind across the prairie and the plant has just about vanished for the rest of the year.

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          Comment by montucky — June 6, 2013 @ 10:29 pm

  9. Oh how I would love to see these growing in the wild. It must be a real treat!!

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    Comment by dhphotosite — June 6, 2013 @ 8:35 am

    • They were much more plentiful when I was a child and they were a favorite. The places where I found them back then are all covered now with blacktop and concrete. I have been pleased to find some here now, although fewer in numbers.

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      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2013 @ 7:49 pm

  10. Wonderful photographs!

    Like

    Comment by Malcolm R. Campbell — June 6, 2013 @ 8:46 am

  11. Hooray!

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    Comment by westerner54 — June 6, 2013 @ 10:38 am

    • That’s what I thought when I found them here. The areas where I found them as a kid are now all covered up by the “progress” of Missoula.

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      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2013 @ 7:51 pm

  12. Beautiful!

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    Comment by Anonymous — June 6, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

  13. I like the etymology you provided. That’s exactly the sort of thing I love to learn.

    I’ve never seen these in person, but they did feature in a biography or two of L&C. They remind me of chicory.

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    Comment by jomegat — June 6, 2013 @ 8:20 pm

    • They are fairly famous because of the Lewis and Clark expedition, but recently not widely seen I don’t think. They can be hard to find because the blossoms just hug the ground and can not be seen from much of a distance.

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      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2013 @ 10:31 pm

  14. Fantastic beautiful. I asked my wife about it due to the word Lewisia because it sounded so familiar. Yes, she found it in her blue notebook from our small garden’s plants the name Lewisia cotyledon.Not the same flower.

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    Comment by Sartenada — June 6, 2013 @ 11:24 pm

    • Lewisia cotyledon occurs in this country too, but only in two western states. I have not seen it.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 7, 2013 @ 8:32 pm

  15. Now I know what the Bitterroot River, Valley, and Mountains are named after. I wasn’t familiar with Lewisia, but I found this short article about the genus:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewisia

    Like

    Comment by Steve Schwartzman — June 7, 2013 @ 5:57 am

    • That article doesn’t seem to be accurate at all for the genus, although there is an alpine species found at high elevations. The rediviva species grows on dry prairies, grassland and sagebrush slopes.

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      Comment by montucky — June 7, 2013 @ 8:37 pm

      • Well, it is Wikipedia, so things aren’t always accurate. You can correct the article if you’d like to.

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        Comment by Steve Schwartzman — June 7, 2013 @ 9:43 pm

  16. Very pretty and interesting. Have you ever tried them (to eat)? Odd how it June 4 two years later when you found them again.

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    Comment by Candace — June 7, 2013 @ 7:46 pm

    • I have not eaten the roots, mainly because I haven’t wanted to disturb the plants. I would love to be invited to the bitterroot feast that’s held each year on the nearby reservation. I’m sure the tribal people harvest them from places where they are more abundant, places that I just don’t know about.

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      Comment by montucky — June 7, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

  17. I purchased a lewisia plant this year and it promptly died. 😦 Nice photos!!

    Like

    Comment by kcjewel — June 7, 2013 @ 9:00 pm

    • I suspect the way to grow this particular species is to plant it in a hot, dry place and completely ignore it. That’s how it grows naturally.

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      Comment by montucky — June 7, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

  18. It’s interesting that you mentioned the cactus flowers up above. Both in color and structure the blossom looks very much like the bloom of my favorite cactus. He just put on his yearly show a couple of weeks ago, and I’ll be posting his portrait, too. I assumed the Bitterroot Range took its name from these flowers – interesting that Lewiston, Idaho, is just to the west. Lewis and Clark had quite an influence. (Interesting that Lewiston’s a seaport, too!)

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    Comment by shoreacres — June 8, 2013 @ 9:42 am

    • Yes, they had quite an influence. They are about as far back as the colonizers history went in this part of the country. I find that very sad.

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      Comment by montucky — June 8, 2013 @ 8:42 pm

  19. oh! they are so lovely, as are your photographs! such a joy to see. some day i hope to meet them.

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    Comment by Tammie — June 8, 2013 @ 10:51 pm

    • THey really are beautiful. We had a airly good rain the other night but I don’t know if it made it to Camas Prairie. If so, it might encourage their bloom.

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      Comment by montucky — June 9, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

  20. I hope I don’t anger the Gods when I say that they might even be prettier thru your lens than they are in the wild…if pretty is in the eye of the beholder and you’ve made a lot more beholding possible 🙂

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    Comment by Liana — June 10, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

    • Thank you Liana. The lens does let us see the flower more clearly in many cases. The blossoms in these photos are about twice the diameter of the actual flower and therefore about four times the size. Much easier to see the detail!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 10, 2013 @ 10:23 pm


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