Family: Papaveraceae (Poppy family)
Height: 15 - 30 cm (6 - 12 in)
Blooming: March - April
Sanguinaria canadensis L.
Flowers: One gloriously white to pinkish flower that unwraps from a single leaf blanketed around it as if to keep it warm in the early spring. Unlike other flowers in the poppy family, there are 8 petals rather than the normal 4 petals. Sometimes there are as many as 12 petals. The flowers are hermaphroditic meaning that male and female parts are on the same flower.
Leaves: Relatively large single kidney shaped (cordate-sagittate) leaf reaching up to 25 cm (10 in) wide. There are usually five to seven lobes. The leaves are a soft green with sometimes a greyish tone.
Fruits: elongated capsules that diminish at both ends.
Sun: Part sun to shade.
Ideal conditions: Rich soil in woodland shade with well drained soil.
Comments: Bloodroot contains a red sap that has been used medicinally due to the alkaloid, sanguinarine, which is regarded by the USDA as poisonous in big doses. It could cause heart failure, nausea, vomiting, and fainting.
The Native Americans and early colonists used the sap as a dye and medicine due to its antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties.
The single leaf will die back in the summer.
Etymology: Bloodroot gets its name from the orange-red sap that leaks out when damaged from all parts of the plant. The genus comes from the Latin word, sanguinārius, which simply means "bloody" or "covered in blood".
SOURCES & FURTHER RESOURCES:
Predny, M.L. and J.L. Chamberlain. 2005. Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis): an annotated bibliography.