Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Lewisia rediviva

Bitterroot tolerates dry soils. Creative Commons photo by Gary Monroe.


SPECIES: Lewisia rediviva
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Howard, Janet L. 1993. Lewisia rediviva. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. ABBREVIATION : LEWRED SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : LERE7 LEREM COMMON NAMES : bitterroot redhead Louisa TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of bitterroot is Lewisia rediviva Pursh [7,13,18]. There are two recognized varieties: Lewisia rediviva var. rediviva and Lewisia rediviva var. minor (Rydb.) Munz. The latter variety occurs in the mountains of Nevada and southern California. It distinguished by its smaller flowers [4,18,27]. LIFE FORM : Forb FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Lewisia rediviva
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Bitterroot is distributed from southern British Columbia east to Montana and south to southern California and northern Arizona [4,7,13,18]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES20 Douglas-fir FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES28 Western hardwoods FRES29 Sagebrush FRES30 Desert shrub FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub FRES35 Pinyon - juniper FRES42 Annual grasslands FRES44 Alpine STATES : AZ CA CO ID MT NV OR UT WA WY BC BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 1 Northern Pacific Border 2 Cascade Mountains 3 Southern Pacific Border 4 Sierra Mountains 5 Columbia Plateau 6 Upper Basin and Range 7 Lower Basin and Range 8 Northern Rocky Mountains 9 Middle Rocky Mountains 10 Wyoming Basin 11 Southern Rocky Mountains 12 Colorado Plateau KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K010 Ponderosa shrub forest K011 Western ponderosa forest K012 Douglas-fir forest K023 Juniper - pinyon woodland K024 Juniper steppe woodland K029 California mixed evergreen forest K030 California oakwoods K032 Transition between K031 and K037 K030 California oakwoods K037 Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub K040 Saltbush - greasewood K041 Creosotebush K048 California steppe K052 Alpine meadows and barren K055 Sagebrush steppe K056 Wheatgrass - needlegrass shrubsteppe K063 Foothills prairie SAF COVER TYPES : 210 Interior Douglas-fir 217 Aspen 220 Rocky Mountain juniper 234 Douglas-fir - tanoak - Pacific madrone 238 Western juniper 239 Pinyon - juniper 240 Arizona cypress 245 Pacific ponderosa pine 247 Jeffrey pine 250 Blue oak - Digger pine 255 California coast live oak SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Bitterroot is most common in intermontane grassland communities of the West but occurs in open areas of various western shrub, woodland, and forest communities as well [17,18,24]. It is not an indicator or dominant species in habitat typings.


SPECIES: Lewisia rediviva
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Bitterroot is unimportant forage for large herbivores due to its small size and brief growing period [22]. Rodents, however, consume the leaves and seeds. Montanan plants transplanted in Pullman, Washington were heavily grazed by deer mouse [4]. PALATABILITY : The palatability of bitterroot for grazing animals in several western states is as follows [6]: CO WY MT cattle poor poor poor sheep poor fair fair horse poor poor poor elk ---- ---- poor mule deer ---- poor ---- NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Aboveground portions of bitterroot are poor in energy and protein value [6]. Nutrient composition of the fresh root per gram dry weight is as follows [19]: calories 3.87 calcium (mg) 2.35 protein (g) 0.10 iron (mg) 0.33 carbohydrate (g) 0.85 magnesium (mg) 0.74 lipid (g) 0.01 zinc (mg) 0.05 ash (g) 0.01 COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : Bitterroot is the state flower of Montana [22]. Bitterroot roots were boiled and eaten by western Indians [22,24]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Bitterroot increases in response to heavy grazing [11].


SPECIES: Lewisia rediviva
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Bitterroot is a native, cool-season, low-growing, ephemeral, perennial forb. Most of the biomass consists of a thick, often branching taproot up to 12.8 inches (32 cm) long. Bitterroot has a short caudex with densely clustered succulent leaves at the caudex crown. The fruit is a capsule with small, round seeds [4,12,16,17,18]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Geophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Differentiation of floral buds appears to be triggered by short-day photoperiods and/or cool fall temperatures [17]. Blooming occurs in spring. Flowers remain open for 2 to 3 days and are pollinated by insects, usually native bees. Seed is dispersed by wind and gravity [4,5,14,26]. Bitterroot seed in Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, was positively correlated with cushion eriogonum (Eriogonum ovalifolium), which probably acts as a seedtrap. Density of soil-stored bitterroot seed on bare ground was 0.7 seeds per square foot (83/sq m), while seed density beneath cushion eriogonum was 52.7 per square foot (567/sq m) [5]. Germination rates are highest after cold stratification [4]. Seedling establishment may be facilitated by mat-forming plants such as cushion eriogonum; Day and Wright [5] have hypothesized that cushion eriogonum is a nurse plant for bitterroot in south-central Idaho. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Bitterroot is found in dry western climates where the majority of precipitation occurs in cooler seasons, and soil desiccation in summer is common [17]. It grows on well-drained, exposed gravelly benches, river bars, plains, stony slopes, and open ridges [7,12,22]. It is found at the following elevations in several western states: feet meters CA: 2,500 to 6,000 762-1,829 [18] CO: 7,000 to 9,000 2,134-2,743 [12] MT: 3,000 to 6,000 914-1,829 [16] UT: 4,790 to 10,335 1,460-3,150 [24] Lewisia rediviva variety minor occurs from 6,500 to 9,000 feet (1,981-2,742 m) in elevation [18]. Plant associates not listed in Distribution and Occurrence are as follows: In palouse prairies of eastern Washington and Oregon and western Idaho and Montana, bitterroot is associated with Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis), bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata), Sandberg bluegrass (Poa secunda), western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii), junegrass (Koeleria cristata), cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), biscuitroot (Lomatium spp.), wooly groundsel (Senecio canus), cushion eriogonum, and mountain pink (Douglasia montana) [3,10]. In mountain shrublands of Utah and Colorado, bitterroot is associated with Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii), bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum), serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata), and silver sagebrush (Artemisia cana) [24]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Bitterroot is a colonizer in primary succession. The thick taproot is well-adapted to initial colonization of rock crevices. Bitterroot in Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, is a primary colonizer of cinder cones [5]. Bitterroot requires full sunlight [16,22], and generally occurs in initial communities and/or early seres in secondary succession [10,11]. Researchers in Alberta found that plants established where prevailing winds broke up sod on hillsides [26]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Bitterroot phenology is as follows in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana [17]: new leaves appear: late October flower buds initiated: early November leaf elongation: April leaves wither: early May flowering: early June flower abscission and seed dispersal: late June Summer dormancy is broken by the onset of precipitation. The period of fall growth therefore varies; bitterroot in western Montana has initiated leaf and flower bud growth as early as August or as late as November, depending on seasonal rainfall [17]. Development is eastern Washington is as follows [4]: seeds germinate: November new leaves appear: September to October flowering: May to June flower abscission and seed dispersal: June to July


SPECIES: Lewisia rediviva FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Because bitterroot is usually dormant in summer and early fall, it escapes most wildfires. Bitterroot probably colonizes burn areas from wind-blown seed, but such a regeneration strategy has not been documented in the literature. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Caudex, growing points in soil Geophyte, growing points deep in soil Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Lewisia rediviva
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire information is lacking for this species. Fire during periods of active growth presumably top-kills bitterroot. Fires occurring during plant dormancy probably do not harm this geophyte. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Cool-season forbs such as bitterroot are susceptible to fall fire occurring in the period of active growth [25]. Fall burning probably adversely affects the rate of spring growth. It may also curtail flowering by consuming floral buds. Carbohydrate reserves in the root are probably adequate, however, for bitterroot to survive occasional fall fire and still resume growth in spring. Spring burning is more harmful. Root-stored carbohydrates are greatly depleted by spring growth. If leaves are burned at this time, bitterroot is unable to manufacture and store the photosynthate required to support growth in fall [17,25]. Frequent spring fire would probably kill bitterroot. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Summer or early fall burning, before fall growth has been initiated, would probably favor bitterroot by maintaining or regressing its plant community to early seres of plant succession. Blaisdell [2] found that forbs such as bitterroot increased after late summer burning of a big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)-bluebunch wheatgrass community of the Upper Snake River Plains, Idaho.


SPECIES: Lewisia rediviva
REFERENCES : 1. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434] 2. Blaisdell, James P. 1953. Ecological effects of planned burning of sagebrush-grass range on the upper Snake River Plains. Tech. Bull. 1975. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 39 p. [462] 3. Cox, George W. 1989. Early summer diet and food preferences of northern pocket gophers in north central Oregon. Northwest Science. 63(3): 77-82. [9310] 4. Daubenmire, R. 1975. An ecological life-history of Lewisia rediviva (Portulacaceae). Syesis. 8: 9-23. [20353] 5. Day, T. A.; Wright, R. G. 1989. Positive plant spatial association with Eriogonum ovalifolium in primary succession on cinder cones: seed-trapping nurse plants. Vegetatio. 80: 37-45. [9304] 6. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806] 7. Dorn, Robert D. 1988. Vascular plants of Wyoming. Cheyenne, WY: Mountain West Publishing. 340 p. [6129] 8. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 9. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 10. Habeck, James R. 1968. Some observations & interpretations of the vegeta. in the Missoula area with commentary on the reduction of environmental quality in this area. Unpublished paper on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. 21 p. [16895] 11. Habeck, J. R. 1993, pers. com. 12. Harrington, H. D. 1964. Manual of the plants of Colorado. 2d ed. Chicago: The Swallow Press Inc. 666 p. [6851] 13. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p. [1168] 14. Kruckeberg, A. R. 1982. Gardening with native plants of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle: University of Washington Press. 252 p. [9980] 15. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 16. Lackschewitz, Klaus. 1991. Vascular plants of west-central Montana--identification guidebook. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-227. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 648 p. [13798] 17. Marvel, Stephen C. 1987. Ecophysiology of Lewisia rediviva Pursh (Portulacaceae): a cool steppe geophyte. Missoula, MT: University of Montana. 142 p. Dissertation. [20358] 18. Munz, Philip A. 1973. A California flora and supplement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1905 p. [6155] 19. Norton, H. H.; Hunn, E. S.; Martinsen, C. S.; Keely, P. B. 1984. Vegetable food products of the foraging economies of the Pacific Northwest. Ecology of Food and Nutrition. 14(3): 219-228. [10327] 20. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 21. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 22. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 1937. Range plant handbook. Washington, DC. 532 p. [2387] 23. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573] 24. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944] 25. Wright, Henry A.; Bailey, Arthur W. 1982. Fire ecology: United States and southern Canada. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 501 p. [2620] 26. Werner, Patricia A.; Bradbury, Ian K.; Gross, Ronald S. 1980. The biology of Canadian weeds. 45. Solidago canadensis L. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 60: 1393-1409. [20357] 27. White, D. E.; Roach, B. A., co-chairmen. 1971. Oak symposium: Proceedings. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 161 p. [2330]