Montana State Flower Is a Low-growing Perennial That Spreads in Loose Sand and Hard Places

shutterstock 1490381648 FloraQueen EN Montana State Flower Is a Low-growing Perennial That Spreads in Loose Sand and Hard Places

The bitter root, scientifically known as lewisia rediviva, is a plant species native to western North America, USA, and Canada. It was officially designated as the Montana state flower on February 27, 1895. The specific name, from the Latin “redivivus,” means “restored, revived, brought back to life.” The Amerindians, particularly the Shoshone, consumed the root of this plant after having peeled and cooked it (particularly bitter skin).

The flower belonged previously to the portulaceae and montiaceae family. Also, the bitterroot has many medicinal and healing properties. They are good for the heart and diabetics. Additionally, they purify the blood and relieve sore throats.

As you read this, you can learn the following:

* Description

* Main Features

* Family

* Planting

* Care and Maintenance


The bitterroot is a small, succulent perennial herbaceous plant, about 5 centimeters tall. Its deciduous foliage forms a basal about 10 centimeters. Also, the dark green leaves are linear. Their outline is full, and their apex is obtuse (not pointed).

The bitterroot can be noticed in spring when it produces its luxurious bloom, and the leaves remain decorative and persistent. They eventually blend into the green of the other foliage. The plant blooms spectacularly in spring. That’s what makes this beautiful and popular flower a real success in all sales areas.

The bitterroot is classified as an alpine plant. It unfolds a rosette of thick, succulent leaves from which excellent stems with corymb flowers emerge. The flowers come in a variety of colors, always fiery, ranging from bright pink to white and apricot. At the heart of the corollas, the golden stamens stand out and add an even more refreshing effect to the flower.

The species of lewisia reaches 20 to 30 cm high in blossom but does not exceed 10 to 15 cm tall once the plant has deflowered. This decorative rosette can retain a more or less flattened appearance with upright leaves at heart.

Main Features

The bitterroot is a hermaphrodite plant that flowers from spring to summer, from May to July. Its actinomorphic flowers are solitary at the end of short stems of 1 to 3 centimeters. They consist of six to nine oval sepals and about 15 overlapping lanceolate petals, 18 to 35 mm long, and of pure pink or white color.

The multicarpellated upper ovary produces an ovoid capsule-like fruit containing six to 20 shiny brown seeds. Initially, the bitterroot is found in high rocky scree. It is not strictly a dry rock plant, although it can do well with rain. It prefers regular soil moisture. However, it can be planted on low walls, rockery gardens, embankments, borders, and spring beds, for example, in combination with forget-me-nots.

It grows very well in pots and is also one of the new plants recommended for balconies and terraces. In this respect, a combination of summer bulbs or summer perennials can make the pots attractive over a longer period of time.


The genus Lewisia has 17 or 18 dicotyledonous plant species native to western North America, from northern Mexico to Alaska through California and Oregon and western Canada.

The first specimens of these plants were collected by the American military and explorer Meriwether Lewis during the first expedition initiated by the United States and President Jefferson to explore the great American west and join the Pacific Ocean. The genus was named in honor of this man in 1814 by the German-born American botanist Frederick Pursh (1774 – 1820). Previously part of the portulaceae family, the leewisia now belongs to the montiaceae family.

They are mostly deciduous perennial herbaceous plants, sometimes semi-persistent to evergreen, about 10 cm high. Their range in cold zones, in altitude or latitude, makes them suitable perennials called alpine. Also, the bitterroot has a rosette of basal leaves arranged on a very short stem in an alternating, or spiral pattern.

Green and fleshy, they are linear in shape and have a full, sometimes slightly serrated outline. They are hermaphrodite plants blooming from spring from March until summer. Their flowers are grouped in racemes, panicles, or umbelliform cymes at their numerous floral stems, about 20 centimeters high.


Planting can take place all year round, depending on the climate, outside of frost periods. The soil in your garden should be well-drained, light, acidic, or neutral. Exposure should be sunny or semi-shaded. The bitterroot needs a minimum of six hours of sunshine per day to flower well.

Planting is carried out in the spring. Improve your soil if it is too weak, with well-decomposed compost. This homemade compost is also used to lighten the soil structure in heavier soils. If necessary, add coarse river sand.

In pots, you should plant in an enriched potting soil that can provide enough nutrients for the plant. Do not keep a saucer under the container to avoid standing water when it rains.

Some maintenance is required. The bitterroot is very hardy and tolerates winter temperatures as low as -25 degrees C. It tolerates drought very well. Remove wilted flowers regularly. After flowering in winter, it is essential to leave it dry. If it is in a pot, tuck it in. If not, place coarse sand under the plant to avoid humidity at the base.

Care and Maintenance

Remember to water regularly, especially for potted vegetables, as the bitterroot prefers cooler soils. In a dry land, it is resistant but grows more slowly. Watering during the flowering period also allows the flowers to renew themselves in abundance. Reduce watering in autumn. In the winter, the plant only needs natural rainfall.

No winter protection is necessary, even for potted plants. When the latter is planted on the balcony, it is advisable to place them on the ground, protected from the freezing wind, along with other plants that you are gathering.

On the balcony and the terrace, repot each year in new potting soil and take advantage of this repotting to divide the plant if necessary. At the beginning of each spring, add liquid fertilizer to the watering water. In the ground, add a thin layer of organic manure or well-decomposed compost. Remove withered flower stems. If necessary, weed around the rosettes.

In the rocky ground, place a mulch of gravel or small stones all around to avoid this work. It can prevent the base leaves from coming into contact with the moisture in the soil in winter and can limit snail attacks.

This small rosette-shaped perennial is trendy for the bright colors of its flowers. The blossom period lasts for a very long time in spring. Accessible for the beginner gardeners, the bitterroot keeps its succulent foliage all year round. Indeed, the bitterroot is resistant but it should not make you think it needs nothing. Consider repotting it or giving it fertilizer if you grow it in pots, and don’t forget to water it. Sometimes, when you come back from your holidays, you have the impression that it didn’t suffer from your absence!

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