Bitter Root (Lewisia rediviva)
Easy to miss, the early spring Bitter root appears to survive with little support. Growing from the cracks between rocks, the plant’s leaves wither away before it blooms, making the showy flower seem leafless. The state flower of Montana, this pretty, low-lying bloom, often found in sets of three, is the definition of ‘rosette.’ Named after Merriweather Lewis who, as the story goes, sent specimens from his voyage back East. The boxed specimens were finally opened, only to discover that they were miraculously in bloom 2 years later, inspiring the latin rediviva for ‘revive.’ Native Americans collected the spring bulbs, although the taste, as suggested by its name, is said to be quite bitter.