Bitterroot takes this strategy even further. Immediately after the snow melts, its rosettes of fleshy, cylindrical leaves appear and pump food into the thick, starchy root. By early May the leaves have completely disappeared and the flowers sprout from the ground without any sign of green, as if the plant were some leafless saprophyte (parasitic plant).
The food-rich roots of many of these grassland plants were important in the diet of First Nations peoples.
Small annual wildflowers like Spring Whitlow-Grass and Blue-eyed Mary also grow quickly, bloom, and then wither, leaving only seeds to carry their genes through the dry months ahead. These seeds are programmed not to germinate unless the soil is soaked, which usually occurs after the snow melts in spring. In dry country like this, "annuals" may not appear annually. Many wait patiently as seeds in the soil for a number of years for that one really wet spring.