Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva) around Mount Davidson

This bitterroot plant was found on Ophir Hill near where the trail from Virginia City, Nevada, passes through on its way to the top of Mount Davidson. Some nearby bitterroots could be seen with masses of overlapping flowers, whereas this plant has a single flower, but is surrounded by various other flowers. A bitterroot flower has up to 18 white or pinkish-white petals. The flower stem itself is short and leafless. Here, the background of the white leaves of the flower makes it easy to spot the pink anthers.

The bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva) belongs to the Purslane Family (Portulacaceae). The scientific name honors Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809), an explorer of the American West and an organizer and participant of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Bitterroot typically occurs on sandy ground or rocky flats and slopes. Its distribution ranges from southern British Columbia, Canada, east to Montana and south to southern California and Arizona [1]. In Nevada, east and northeast of Lake Tahoe, small bitterroot assemblies are commonly found at mid elevations of Mount Peavine and in the Virginia Range, for example east of Hidden Valley, at Older Geiger Grade and Mount Davidson, but also at higher elevation in dry areas of the Mount Rose Wilderness.

References and more
[1] Species: Lewisia rediviva.
[2] Bitterroot illustration.
[3] Laird R. Blackwell: Tahoe WildflowersA Month-by-Month Guide to Wildflowers in the Tahoe Basin and Surrounding Areas. A Falcon Guide, Morris Book Publishing, LLC, 2007 ; page 57.

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