The Wenatchee Mountains in central Washington are home to several endemic species — plants that are found nowhere else in the world. Tweedy’s Lewisia, Cistanthe tweedyi or Lewisia tweedyi, is one of those endemics. It’s actually a little more widespread than some, but the largest populations are in the Wenatchees.
Tweedy’s is one of the showiest of the Lewisias, with multiple large salmon-cream flowers and thick succulent leaves. It blooms in mid-June in the mountains. You’ll find it scattered throughout its range, but almost always growing out of rock outcroppings and often on serpentine.
I photographed this specimen along the road to the Tronson Ridge trail. It’s signed 5-mile Road where it takes off from the north side of Blewett Pass. Driving up, watching my odometer for the point a friend had seen it the previous week, I missed seeing numerous other plants along the road that I found when driving back down. I’ve heard a report that there’s lots of it on the Tronson Ridge trail, too.
This specimen was on the road cut above an outside switchback. The rocky slope was steep, which made quite a challenge getting both my body and my tripod into position to photograph the plant. I constantly felt like I was about to slip down the hill onto the road below, but managed to keep myself stuck in place long enough to shoot. I used my versatile 24-105mm zoom and worked under overcast skies. I’ve done just a touch of contrast and color adjustment in Photoshop.
Tweedy’s Lewisia can be grown in gardens. I’ve even seen it near sea level on Mercer Island in Puget Sound. Several rock gardening friends grow it in troughs or other containers. If you decide to try it, make sure you get nursery-grown plants. One source is Derby Canon Natives in Peshastin, Washington. In its native habitat it gets most of its water in the form of winter snow and almost no summer rainfall so give it similar treatment in your garden, including good drainage.
There are more photos of Tweedy’s Lewisia on my Pacific Northwest Wildflowers website.