Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva) grows in open rocky flats and thin soils in Western Canada and the Western United States. After blooming, this plant of dry habitats withers back and is almost invisible much of the year. The carrot-like roots can survive extreme dehydration.
Growing one to four inches in height, bitterroot is a native perennial. The linear, fleshy leaves are borne at ground level and are hidden by the large flowers. The flower has numerous pink or white petals with longitudinal stripes and numerous stamens.
Also commonly called rock rose, bitterroot roots were eaten by Native Americans after being peeled and boiled. The roots become woody and bitter with age so bitterroot was considered a spring delicacy rather than a staple.
Bitterroot was “discovered” by Captain Meriwether Lewis and the genus name honors him.
Bitterroot is the State Flower of Montana.
I was delighted to find these bitterroot specimens along Blue Sky Road in Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in Oregon.