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Beloved Indigenous Bitterroot Flowers of Montana
Even before Bitterroot became the official State Flower of Montana, the flower was already an icon that made its mark all through out the entire state. Before Bitterroot, the WTCU or the Women’s Christian Temperance union of Montana had the “little blue flower that grows near the snow banks” as its official state flower. However, the choice was altered two years later. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union voted and designated the Bitterrot as the official floral emblem that will represent the state of Montana.
The Bitterroot or Lewisia rediviva was a discovery of the Lewis and Clark expedition In the year 1805. To be exact, it was Meriwether Lewis who discovered this perennial plant. A Bitterroot plant grows not very far from the ground. The flower of Bitterroot plants are delicately shaded. You can find these lovely wildflowers in colors of exquisite pink, offering you the sight of real beauty.
Bitterroot had its genus name derived from its discovere which was Lewis, while the rediviva was a name connected to the plant because of its hardiness. Referred to as the “resurrection flower” for the reason that this particular plant can live and survive for a year without rain or water. One of the famous landmarks of Montana, the “Bitter Root Valley” borrowed its name from the Bitterroot plant.
Flowers of Bitterroot are large and showy, its color varies from white, rosy to deeper shades of pink. Petals can be counted from 12 to 18 but usually they are 15 in numbers. The showy petals are oblong or somewhat elongated in shape that measures from 18 to 35 millimeters in length. You will also find 6 to 9 oval-shaped sepals from 10 to 25 millimeters long with colors similar to those of the petals. A Bitterroot usually holds a single flower on its stem, however, typically at times you’ll be able to see two to three flowers as well.
Among the state flowers of Montana, nothing has been endowed with the same love and importance as the Bitterroot of the state. The choice to change the state flower to what it is now is the most logical choice made in the history of Montana. With Bitterroot’s strong Indian Heritage, it is the most appropriate and the most rightful floral emblem of the state of Montana.
It was a Montana legislature act that adopted the Bitterroot, Lewisia rediviva as Montana’s official state floral emblem made effective on the 27th of February, year 1895. It was a crusade made and pushed almost single-handedly by bozeman’s Mary Long Anderson, a mother, journalist and a proud activist.
Mary Long Anderson persuaded the Legislature of Montana to officially adopt the most beloved Bitterroot as the floral emblem of the state. She took action by forming institutions such as the Montana Floral Emblem Association in Januray 1894 and focused on her mission. Her goal was put into action with the help of her husband Mathew William Anderson. She wanted to hold an election a statewide voting event that will choose the floral emblem that will represent the state of Montana.
Thirty-seven flower were voted upon and among the 5,857 votes that were returned and tallied, Bitterrot won the election hands down garnering 62% of the total votes. The Wild Rose with 668 votes came in as third and second was the Evening Primrose with 787 votes. The rest of the flowers had 781 votes shared among themselves. There’s no question with 3, 621 votes, Bitterroot is the heart of Montana.




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