Lewisia is a genus of about 20 species of perennials in the family Montiaceae, all native to western North America.
These low-growing plants are known for their attractive, fleshy leaves and large flowers in a variety of colors. The flowers are cup-shaped and have many petals. The most popular species are Lewisia cotyledon, also known as Cliff Maid, and Lewisia rediviva, commonly called Bitterroot.
The genus was named in honor of Meriwether Lewis, of the famous explorer duo, Lewis and Clark.
Lewisia represents rebirth and new beginnings.
Interesting facts about Lewisia
History of Lewisia
Apart from its beauty, Lewisia has a rich history.
The plant was discovered by Meriwether Lewis of the historical Lewis and Clark expedition.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition took place from 1804 to 1806, following one of the most significant events in American history – the Louisiana Purchase. The Louisiana Purchase was a land purchase between the U.S. and France in 1803, in which President Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana territory from France, under the rule of Napoleon.
Meriwether Lewis collected a bitterroot plant (Lewisia rediviva) to add to the collection he would present to President Jefferson. Among other species, the Bitterroot was presented to Frederick Pursh for identification. After the plant was revived, Frederick Pursh, a German-American botanist, gave the plant its scientific name – Lewisia rediviva. The name honored Meriwether Lewis and his role in bringing the plant to the attention.
In 2009, the genus Lewisia was transferred from the purslane family (Portulacaceae) to the Montiaceae family.
Benefits and Uses
Lewisia rediviva (Bitterroot) has been used for medicinal purposes to cure various ailments such as headaches, sore throat, arthritis, gout, diabetes and kidney failure. It has also been used to relieve heart pain, to slow the pulse, to increase the milk flow in nursing mothers, to relieve stress and as a blood purifier. This valuable species is also known as a diuretic, which can help to detoxify the body. Lewisia rediviva promotes overall health, strength and efficiency of your metabolism.
All species are edible.
Lewisia rediviva (Bitterroot) was an important food source for Native Americans. It was an important part of their diet. Its roots were boiled and eaten, and in some cases they were harvested and dried for winter consumption. The taste of the Bitterroot is determined by where it is grown.
Lewisia Plant Data
The flowers come in shades of white, pink, purple, orange and red.
Spring, Autumn, Summer
Lewisia is a small plant, growing up to 30 cm (1 ft) in height.
Lewisia prefers moderately fertile and well drained soil, with a ph value between 5.0 and 8.0. It is drought tolerant and thrives in poor and dry soils.