Bloodroot

Like Blue Cohosh, Google this plant and you’ll get lots of hits for “remedies” using preparations made from it…  and there will be controversy, too!  The juice from its roots (rhizomes, if you want to get technical) has been used as a body dye, but the juice can also kill skin tissue.  So… I wouldn’t recommend digging it up and painting yourself with it!  Even Peterson’s Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs, after listing a host of potential remedies warns, “Toxic!  Do not ingest.”

BloodrootBloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) flowers come up before or sometimes along with the leaves.  The leaves are rolled into a tube that surrounds the flower stem and will slowly unfurl as the flower grows taller.  It gets its common name from the blood-red juice that can be squeezed from its underground rhizomes.

Bloodroot

 

I’m working on a new book called Race for the Sun.  My intent is to include all the flowers from the guild “Spring Ephemerals” that I find around here… in the order I find them.

I was very sad to learn that I can’t include Bloodroot… if I want to be a purist, that is.

Bloodroot does bloom in early spring before the canopy shades the forest floor… but because the fruit takes until June or so to mature and the leaves may remain until August or September, it does not technically belong in this guild.  So sad… It’s such a pretty little thing…  (I suppose I could change the focus of my book to any old spring flower in the woods that catches my eye…)

Bloodroot 4

Bloodroot 2 Bloodroot Range Map

Learn more:


UPDATE 4/23/08:  You MUST go see Jeremy Martin’s photo of Bloodroot.  It is stunning!  Click here.


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11 thoughts on “Bloodroot

  1. Everything is coming out at once here. Last evening I saw Bloodroot, Trilliums and Trout Lilies out together. This winter into summer weather is going to be a challenge for the ephemerals as the leaves are coming out early too.

  2. I always thought “spring ephemerals” referred simply to those that bloomed fast and early to avoid getting shaded out, but I suppose you’re right. Still, I’d avoid such purity if I were you! So many cool flowers you’d have to leave out otherwise.

    By the way, another blog carnival you might be interested in submitting posts like this one to is the new plants carnival Berry Go Round, http://berrygoround.wordpress.com/ .

  3. Dave is right about his spring ephemerals definition, though I think there’s some debate as to whether these really avoid being shaded out or try to get nutrients before the trees pump almost everything into their fronds. Anyway if it keeps leaves green over spring and summer, it may indeed not be referred to as an ephemeral…

    I think you might well submit your posts to Berry Go Round (submissions are intended to last until the 25th so it’s perfect time to send this post…).

    Regards,

  4. A book on early spring wildflowers that doesn’t include bloodroot? Surely you jest. 🙂

    Great photos, Jennifer. I especially like the three soldiers standing at attention.

  5. In case anyone is following the thread of comments…
    Adam: I’m very impressed with the quality of the printing of the book I got from Blurb.com! I think it is THE way to go for scrapbooking. By the time you print photos and buy a scrapbook and put it all together, you will spend about the same amount of time and money!

    (I already told Adam this by email… hee hee)

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