Herb: Columbian Bitterroot

Latin name: Lewisia columbiana

Family: Portulacaceae (Purslane Family)

Edible parts of Columbian Bitterroot:

Root - cooked. Said to be extremely nutritious. It is easiest to use when the plant is in flower because the outer layer of the root (which is very bitter) slips off easily at this time of the year. The root has a good taste though a decided bitter flavour develops afterwards.

Description of the plant:


15 cm
(6 inches)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Exposed gravel banks and rocky slopes.

Propagation of Columbian Bitterroot:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame in a very freely draining soil. Sow stored seed as soon as possible in a cold frame. One months cold stratification should improve germination, though this is still likely to be very slow. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first two winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in March/April. Very difficult.

Cultivation of the herb:

Exposed gravel banks and rocky slopes.

Medicinal use of Columbian Bitterroot:

None known

Known hazards of Lewisia columbiana:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.