Simply The Best Natives-Bloodroot


“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  IMG_2887Sanguinaria 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 bloodwortred 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.

obj1512geo823pg2p10I 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.





Growing Conditions

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.DSCN6649

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 IMG_2731disperse 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

IMG_0866This 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.IMG_3019

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





Come Join Us:

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 hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden.  My most recent post is up already.   Next post is tomorrow.

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.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2014.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.






76 Replies to “Simply The Best Natives-Bloodroot”

  1. Happy Birthday Donna. I hope your recuperation is tranquil and you take time to rest and not worry about anything except getting well! You have showcased a charming plant and I understand why you love it so much. My very best wishes, Christina

    1. Thanks so much Christina. I am behaving and making positive strides forward every day…the doctor still has me on “light duty” for another few weeks.

  2. Great info Donna. I tried growing this once but didn’t realize it needed sun. Thinking back I probably didn’t give it enough moisture either, so maybe I’ll try again. Hope you’re feeling well and are soon able to get out and enjoy your garden. Susie

    1. Oh Susie I hope you do try it again….I ventured out to look around the front weeds and flowers yesterday. If felt good.

  3. Glad to see your blog posts again. Hope all is going well for you and Happy Birthday.
    I have bloodroot (double flowers) coming up in a couple of places in my yard, but I never planted them. I might have gotten it from a friend that shared a plant with me and they were hitchhikers. They are lovely little flowers, but I didn’t know how poisonous they were. Thanks for your article.

  4. been wondering how you are Donna – so this is a Happy Birthday and Get Well soon all in one. Love this Spring charmer and wish it were a native here
    p.s. am awaiting for confirmation of my surgery this Saturday and might just need some of that bloodroot 😉

    1. I am finally feeling good enough to stand for longer times and walk more so things are progressing nicely.

      I am holding you close in my thoughts and prayers for your surgery Laura…thank you for your kind words here as they mean so much to me!

  5. Happy birthday Donna, sorry to hear you haven’t been keeping so well. I am not familiar with this form of bloodroot but it looks like a woodland plant worthy of a place in my garden, not so sure about its dubious uses, now, where’s that magnifying glass gone,I need to check on that colgate.

    1. I thought the same thing Alistair….thanks for the good wishes. I had a hernia repair that went a bit awry and I needed up having a bit more surgery than we thought and a longer hospital stay. It has been 2 weeks and I am getting better daily. I expect to be out in the garden again soon.

  6. Many Happy Returns Donna! Bloodroot is a very pretty little plant which doesn’t grow here as far as I know, so it’s interesting to read about it. Hope you are relaxing and make a rapid recovery!

  7. I do grow bloodroot, and I am patiently waiting for it to take off. I think this year was the taking hold phase. I grow a number of spring ephemerals in the woodland garden;I plant them close to the path so I can easily see them. I always am delighted to see them, and I hate to see them go as summer arrives.

  8. I was given this plant at a plant swap and so far it’s happy in my garden. But it’s not in a very moist spot so we’ll see how it does. Sounds like I need to call the gardener who gave it to me for more info. 🙂

    1. How lucky to have been given this wonderful harbinger of spring. With the cooler weather in spring it probably will do fine without the too moist soil as long as the soil isn’t very dry.

  9. Happy Birthday Donna, hope I am not too late.

    Alas, my bloodroot never did put in an appearance this year. Summer arrived in lower NY today and my native plants are as confused as ever. Waiting for the iris to flower. Enjoying the columbines. And wondering what ate my dutchman’s breeches, and ninebark. We have a tiny bunny, could it have eaten the whole shrub ? I tried a pinwheel next to the former. And it worked, til today.

    1. Thanks Denise…I have been sidelined with surgery so just getting back to folks. Don’t give up on the bloodroot. I t may still appear in a year or two. Natives are funny that way. Does it get some sun in moist soil?

      Deer have been known to eat my ninebark. How big were the bushes that were eaten down. It would take more than one deer or rabbit to eat them that far down if they were full height.

  10. Dear Donna, wishing you a belated happy birthday and I hope you had a lovely day, also good wishes on your recovery from surgery, take life easy for now and you will be up and about sooner, x

    this looks like a charming little plant and how kind of the ants to be good gardeners and spread it nicely around your garden, Frances

    1. Thanks Frances I did have a nice relaxing day and we will celebrate another day when I am able. I am doing well after only 2 weeks. I am following doctor’s orders and keeping it light and easy.

    1. Thanks Laura…I am feeling better and will be ready to celebrate my birthday and garden a bit more soon!! Glad you liked the bloodroot.

  11. I was given some bloodroot this spring, and hope it will start to colonize over the next year or so. I’m looking forward to the spring blooms!

  12. Hi Donna, i wonder why it is called bloodroot or why Sanguinaria as bloodroot. But whatever, it is really beautiful and the structure is so unique with those rolled leaves, amazing protection for the continuity of the species.

  13. Oh yes, I do love this one, Donna. Thanks for all the great information about Bloodroot. It seems like almost a magical plant–for so many reasons, including the way it emerges and grows, the red roots, the early and short bloom time … the list goes on … Beautiful captures about this amazing plant, Donna!

    1. Thanks Beth. I love photographing bloodroot as you can tell. It has so many amazing reasons to love it doesn’t it?

    1. Yes Diana I am up and around more everyday. The doctor still has me on light duty for a few weeks but I should be out in the garden supervising the planting of veggies soon.

  14. Hi Donna, lovely shot of this beautiful flower and a wealth of information to go with it. Have a lovely week.

  15. I really love the foliage on Bloodroot but I’ve never grown it. Actually I have very few spring ephermerals in my gardens, preferring summer-bloomers.

    1. I can see why Grace as your climate supports those summer bloomers so much longer…you know for me with our winter I thrive on the early spring blooms.

  16. Happy birthday, and all the best for a speedy recovery, Donna. Fascinating info about this plant, pretty but poisonous, used for voodoo, etc. It may be ephemeral but it’s pretty powerful.

  17. Happy Birthday Donna and I wish you a quick recovery. I enjoy your detailed posts on special plants like the Bloodroot. We don’t have that one but we do have ephemerals like anemone and rainlily which I love to see in my garden.

    1. Thanks so much Shirley for these kind words. I am doing well and hope to be out gardening soon. I adore seeing your natives and will be catching up with blogs in the next few days.

    1. I will have to contact you Carolyn to see if I can get the double and semi-double forms for my garden.

  18. I will order some plants from Amanda’s Garden in the fall. I saw that she said you can cut back your New England Asters in June to control their height.. I am afraid to do that with the cold spring we have had.. Healing hugs your way.. Michelle

    1. I have never tried cutting them back but they seem to stay upright pretty much in the fall so I will not cut mine. Thanks for the healing hugs…I am doing much better given all the setbacks.

  19. Your bloodroot looks great. I had some at one point but there were too many other plants trying to all grow there at the same time and either it was choked out or covered up so I can’t find it. I’ll have to get some more some day. Yours looks so pretty and pristine. I love the notched leaves.

    1. I love the leaves as well Hannah. As my bloodroot fades the Mayapple takes its place. I was lucky that I did crowd it out in my little shade plot. I do need to divide mine and share it around the garden.

  20. Happy Birthday, Donna! And a wish for a speedy recovery to you as well. I just got a start of bloodroot this spring from a garden mentor of mine. It was growing all over her garden in early May and was just lovely. You’ve reminded me I’d better make sure I marked where I planted it–I wouldn’t want to pull out these little leaves by mistake while I’m weeding!

  21. I planted several Sanguinaria canadensis last year and was thrilled when a couple survived and bloomed this year. They are a little bit of magic.

  22. Such complete information. I didn’t realize how easy it was to grow bloodroot until I began working with the Bridge of Flowers. We even sell divisions from the Bridge at our annual plant sale. Beautiful spring bloomers.

    1. Good to know it is easy to grow from divisions as I well Pat since I hope to move it around the garden.

    1. I have seen the double variety in pictures but never in person…might have to find it and I know a great spot for it.

  23. Happy Birthday, Donna! Hope you are recuperating well. It’s a lovely wildflower you wrote about today. very interesting to read.

  24. I have heard of bloodroot before, but I don’t believe I knew what it looked like until now. I enjoyed learning more about it. Too bad you can’t get out in your garden, but I hope you have a speedy recovery and a blessed birthday!

    Feel free to visit this week’s photo contribution Macro Shot!

  25. I was lucky enough to be given some bloodroot and it bloomed for us this year – you’re right it is a wonderful native flower.

  26. It’s definitely a favorite, Donna! Its blooms only last for a couple of days here–probably the shortest-lived flowers in my garden. The foliage, however, as you say, is a great ground cover through early summer. I can see why it was prized and considered sacred by the indigenous North Americans.

    1. When the weather is cool and it blooms, mine will last for a week or more. I think a few years ago it was weeks. i was astounded. I love seeing where they will pop up each year.

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