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Lewisia rediviva - Pursh.

Common Name Bitter-Root
Family Portulacaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Gravelly to heavy, usually dry soils[60]. Rocky dry soils of valleys, or on foothills, stony slopes, ridges and mountain summits to about 2,500 metres[212].
Range Western N. America - Montana to British Columbia, south to California and Colorado.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Lewisia rediviva Bitter-Root


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Stan_Shebs
Lewisia rediviva Bitter-Root
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Stan_Shebs

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Lewisia rediviva is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 0.1 m (0ft 4in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf from September to July, in flower in June. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

L. alba.

Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Root
Edible Uses:

Root - cooked[2, 4, 94, 161]. The root was a staple food of some native North American Indian tribes[257]. It is said to be extremely nutritious, 50 - 80 grams being sufficient to sustain an active person for a day[4, 207]. The root is, however, rather small and tedious to collect in quantity[207]. It is easiest to use when the plant is in flower in the spring, because the outer layer of the root (which is very bitter) slips off easily at this time of the year[85, 95]. Whilst being boiled the roots become soft and swollen and exude a pink mucilaginous substance[183]. The root swells to about 6 times its size and resembles a jelly-like substance[105]. The root has a good taste though a decided bitter flavour develops afterwards[85]. If the root is stored for a year or two the bitterness is somewhat reduced[183]. The root can also be dried, ground into a powder and used as a mush or a thickener in soups etc[212, 257].

Medicinal Uses

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Blood purifier  Cardiac  Galactogogue  Poultice

The root is cardiac and galactogogue[257]. An infusion of the root has been used to increase the milk flow in nursing mothers, to relieve heart pain and the pain of pleurisy and also as a blood purifier[257]. The root has been eaten raw to counteract the effects of poison ivy rash and as a treatment for diabetes[257]. The pounded dry root has been chewed in the treatment of sore throats[257]. A poultice of the raw roots has been applied to sores[257].

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Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

Requires a very well-drained gritty humus-rich deep soil in a sunny position[1, 200]. This species is not reliably hardy in Britain. It can withstand consistently very cold weather but does not like alternating periods of mild and cold conditions, nor does it like winter wet[1]. The plant is very susceptible to rotting at the neck in a damp soil[200]. The plant is easy to kill by over-watering but extremely difficult to kill by under-watering. Roots that have been dried and stored for a number of years have been known to come back into growth when moistened[95]. The plant dies down after flowering and re-appears in September. It must be kept dry whilst dormant[129]. It is best grown in a greenhouse or bulb frame[200]. A very ornamental plant[1], it is the state flower of Montana[85, 95]. Very apt to hybridize with other members of this genus[1].

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Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame in a very freely draining soil[129]. Sow stored seed as soon as possible in a cold frame. One months cold stratification should improve germination, though this is still likely to be very slow. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first two winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in March/April. Very difficult.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Lewisia brachycalyxShortsepal lewisia20
Lewisia columbianaColumbian Bitterroot, Columbian lewisia, Wallowa lewisia20
Lewisia pygmaeaPigmy Bitterroot, Alpine lewisia20

 

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Expert comment

Author

Pursh.

Botanical References

60200270

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Libby Hyde   Thu Mar 4 06:01:56 2004

Is bitteroot used for making furniture or other such type crafts?

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Subject : Lewisia rediviva  
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