“Flowers are love’s truest language.”
– Park Benjamin
In early spring one of the most beautiful sights is the that of the spring ephemerals. Those wildflowers that bloom and fade just a memory on the wind as summer rolls around. One of the first and most lovely and unusual is bloodroot or Sanguinaria canadensis part of the Poppy Family (Papaveraceae). It is one of my favorites and I thought I had done a profile of this plant already. I realized a few weeks ago that I hadn’t so I thought I would make up for that oversight and write about it now. And what better way to spend my birthday, than to dream about a flower that has just bloomed (especially since I won’t be out and about or in the garden much while I am recuperating).
Sanguinaria canadensis has been called bloodwort, red puccoon root and has also been known as tetterwort.
This fleeting spring flower stays clasped in the curled leaf until ready to bloom in full sun. Then it rises from the center of the leaf. Once the flower is pollinated, the petals litter the ground. The generic name of bloodroot comes from the Latin, sanguinarius, which means bleeding.
I am linking in with Gail@Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday meme as I profile this wonderful native plant.
And I am also joining forces with a local native plant nursery, Amanda’s Garden, to purchase plants for my garden, like the one I am profiling in this post. The owner, Ellen Folts, specializes in woodland, prairie and wetland native perennials.
Sanguinaria canadensis, grows 7-10 inches tall. The flower and leaf grow on separate stems. The plant flowers in early spring resembling a water lily, and leaves only the foliage until it goes dormant in summer under the shade of trees.
It grows from seed and rhizome creating a colony. Seeds should be planted immediately after collection as they cannot be allowed to dry out. If planting by rhizome it should be done in fall or early spring. The sap in the rhizome is orange-red giving the plant its name. Wear gloves when handling this plant’s roots.
Sanguinaria canadensis receives sun in spring as the trees are bare. It will also grow in part shade but the moisture of the soil is more important than the sun. It requires moist to wet soil that does not dry out and is humus rich. They are prized as a native ground cover as they naturally occur as such at the base of trees in the wild much like trillium.
Bloodroot opens in the sun and closes on cloudy days and at night.
There is a double flowering bloodroot that many gardeners grow as its flowers are even showier and last longer. I do not grow these.
Benefits to Wildlife
Bloodroot does not provide nectar, but does provide pollen for some bees primarily mining bees. Once seeds are formed, ants disperse the seeds by taking them back to their nests. The ants in my garden have done a nice job creating other stands of bloodroot throughout the garden.
If the flowers bloom too early, before pollinators are out and about, this flower can self pollinate.
Small birds and critters like to utilize the cover of the leaves. They say deer will feed on the bloodroot although I have never seen them eat mine.
Bloodroot is the larval host plant for 2 Lepidoptera Butterfly species.
Where Are They Found
This native plant is found throughout eastern North America from Canada to Florida and west to the Great Lakes down to Arkansas.
Look for it in rich loamy woods and near the edges of streams and on slopes. They do not like to grow in disturbed soil or in open areas like meadows.
The sap from the roots is poisonous so be cautious in ingesting or handling this plant.
Bloodroot extract was approved for use commercially in dental hygiene products as an antibacterial or anti-plaque agent. There is controversy, however, as to whether it may cause cancer. I try to be careful about the toothpaste I use, and look for those without a lot of chemicals.
Folklore and Tales
Native Americans used bloodroot for many things. They especially liked the red dye to dye clothes, baskets and for war paint. Native Americans also like to use it as an insect repellent although I wouldn’t put this sap on my skin knowing it can be poisonous. They also used the plant to make a tea for rheumatism and lung ailments. One of the best uses was that of a love charm. Although I can’t imagine it would be safe to paint your hand with the sap which was the practice.
Early American settlers are said to have put a drop of bloodroot on a lump of maple sugar to treat coughs. Again this plant is poisonous so this cure is not used today. They also hung a piece of bloodroot over their beds as a cure for toothache.
Bloodroot was also used in Voodoo practices because it was believed to have magical properties.
There is a flower called bloodroot, not the same flower as this bloodroot, but I love its meaning: Regeneration, Healing, Strength and Growth.
Do you grow bloodroot or any other spring ephemeral? Do you have a favorite spring wildflower?
“Little flower, but if I could understand what you are, root and all in all, I should know what God and man is.” - Tennyson
Seasonal Celebrations will start on June 1st. It is a time for marking the change of seasons and what is happening in your part of the world during this time. I hope you will join in by creating a post telling us how you celebrate this time of year whether summer or winter or something else. Share your traditions, holidays and celebrations in pictures and words.
And it seems so appropriate to collaborate with Beth and her Lessons Learned meme. What lessons have you learned this past season of summer here in the North and winter in the South. Then tell us about your wishes, desires and dreams for this new season.
The rules are simple. Just create a post that talks about lessons learned and/or seasonal celebrations. If you are joining in for both memes please leave a comment on both our blog posts. Or if you are choosing to join only one meme, leave a comment on that blog post. Make sure to include a link with your comment.
Beth and I will do a summary post of our respective memes on the solstice (around the 21st of June). And we will keep those posts linked on a page on our blog. Your post should be linked in the weekend before the solstice to give us enough time to include your post in our summary. And if you link in a bit late, never fear we will include it on the special blog page (which I still have to create). The badges here can be used in your post. So won’t you join in the celebration!!
Next up on the blog: Friday will be my summer Seasonal Celebrations post. I hope you will be joining in.
I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday.
I can also be found blogging once a month at Vision and Verb. Next post is June 3rd.
I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.
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