Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva), packet of 30 seeds
Family: Portulacca (Portulaccaceae) also Spring Beauty (Montiaceae)
Hardy to Zones 3 to 8
Perennial herb flowering to 3 inches, native to the mountains of western North America. The root is fleshy, like a thick carrot, and the leaves are succulent. The adage “rediviva”means “restored to life,” referring to the plant’s uncanny habit of flowering profusely only after the leaves shrivel and die. Specifically, the adage stems from a single specimen pressed by Captain Meriwether Lewis, which upon delivery to the herbarium, after a period of 2 years, showed signs of life, was replanted, and lived! The growth cycle is peculiar. The plant makes leaves with the fall rains and continues leafy through the winter. In the spring, the leaves shrivel up and die back, and the flowers (white to rose, and all shades in between) are produced at low elevation in April and at subalpine elevations, in July. The plant goes summer dormant. The fleshy roots of this pretty little wild one were once employed as a food, boiled until jellied and consumed with meat. Native medicinal uses abound (Native American, TWH): galactogogue, antiinflammatory, normalizes heart rate and blood sugar levels, bitter digestive, fresh roots smashed as a poulticing agent against obstinate sores. Plant prefers open rocky slopes facing North. Dry, fast-draining soils are preferred, including sandy soils, scree, and denser soils when dryish or quite dry. Wet soils will quickly rot the plants, as I have learned. Sow seeds in fall to early winter for germination in the spring as the ground warms. Use ceramic pots filled with cactus mix to 1/2 inch below the rim, sprinkle in the seeds, hold the seeds down with a layer of coarse, sharp sand or grit, then mulch to the rim with white pumice. Alternatively, you can put the seeds in moist sand or potting soil in the fridge for 2-3 weeks, then plant as above, leaving the pots in cool shade and watering only when dry. Under these conditions, germination may occur within a few weeks. Keep the seedlings shaded and barely watered for a year or two until sufficiently well established to transplant to the landscape or to the rockery. Space plants 6 inches apart.
30 seeds per packet, open pollinated, untreated, no GMO’s
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