Bloodroot is a beautiful wildflower of the Eastern woodlands that is fast becoming a popular flower for shade gardens. Its curious name comes from its blood-red sap, which was once used as a dye by Native Americans.
Description of bloodroot: A thick 6- to 8-inch stem pushes out of the ground in early spring, revealing a single leaf tightly rolled around a large flower bud. When it unfurls, the light green leaf is 4 to 8 inches wide and generally rounded in shape but with an irregular margin and wavy edges. The single white flower is 11/2 inches in diameter with numerous yellow stamens. The flower opens in early spring and lasts only a few days, but the foliage remains attractive until the entire plant disappears in late summer. Ease of care of bloodroot: Moderately easy.
Growing bloodroot: Plant in summer just after the leaf has yellowed. Bloodroot prefers moisture-retentive, humus-rich soil. It needs sunlight only in the spring; therefore, the plant will grow in the shade formed by deciduous trees. Once established it needs no special care, spreading abundantly. If the soil dries out, the plants go dormant early. Wear gloves when handling this plant and wash your hands afterward; its red sap is somewhat toxic.
Propagating bloodroot: By rhizome divisions in late summer.
Uses for bloodroot: Bloodroot makes an ideal flower for spring color in shaded areas. Bloodroot does well even when planted at the base of shallow-rooted trees.
Related varieties of bloodroot: 'Multiplex' (Sanguinaria canadensis), the most desirable variety, produces pure white, fully double flowers that last much longer than those of the species.
Scientific name of bloodroot: Sanguinaria canadensis