Photo Credit
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Bitter root

Scientific name
Lewisia rediviva
Plant Family
Plant Group
Bitter root is often found in open rocky habitats. The leaves generally lay flat around the central root of the plant and the pink flowers, low to the ground, have more than 2 petal-like sepals.
Identification Hints

Bitter root is often found in open rocky habitats. The leaves generally lay flat around the central root of the plant and the pink flowers, low to the ground, have more than 2 petal-like sepals.

Did You Know?

The roots were harvested with a digging stick and eaten traditionally many Native American groups. Families in some cultural groups still gather the roots today. The roots are prepared for eating by removing the bark and boiling, steaming, or pit-roasting them and they are eaten fresh or dried. Also, the gray-crowned rosy finch feeds on the seeds. It was first collected by Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition, who is honored by the genus name.

Leaves
The many succulent, linear leaves form a rosette and usually wither by flowering time.
Flowers
Flowers are showy, up to 2 in (4 cm) across, and range from white to pink with 10 to 19 petals. They are radially symmetrical (like a Daisy, they have many planes on which they form their own mirror image), and there are 30 to 50 pink-tipped stamens in the center. They are on short stalks, and one plant tends to produce many flowers close to the ground. Flowers are surrounded by a rosette of leaf-like, linear, succulent bracts approximately the same length as the petals. Flowers close at night, and reopen with the morning sun.
Fruits
A delicate, paper-like capsule (a dry covering that will split apart to release seeds) that is filled with very tiny, shiny black seeds.
Habitat
The plant grows in open woodlands and sagebrush shrublands with pine, oak or juniper in many soil types such as shale, sand, clay, granite, serpentine, or talus (loose rocks).
Bloom Time
Early spring (March to June), depending on location.
States
AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY