Bloodroot

Media
Photo of bloodroot plant with flower
Scientific Name
Sanguinaria canadensis
Family
Papaveraceae (poppies)
Description

Bloodroot is a stemless plant consisting of a fleshy, horizontal, fingerlike tuber with reddish-orange juice. The tuber sends up a flower stalk wrapped by a single palmate, deeply scalloped, grayish-green basal leaf. The leaf unfurls when the solitary flower blooms. After the flower fades, the leaves continue growing (to 8 inches wide) until midsummer, when the plant goes dormant: the leaf turns yellow and withers away, and the plant will bloom next spring. Blooms March–April. Flowers open before or just as the leaves start to unfurl. As the flower opens, 2 sepals fall off, and 8–16 white petals of uneven size and length descend to a horizontal position, forming a flower that grows to 1¼ inch across, with many yellow stamens. Because petals are of uneven length, one often finds “square” flowers. Each flower lasts only one or two days. Fruits are about 1 inch long, borne upright, smooth, often with a thin whitish waxy coating. On maturity these split open lengthwise from the base into 2 parts.

Common Name Synonyms
Red Puccoon
Size
Height: to about 9 inches.
Where To Find
image of Bloodroot Distribution Map
Statewide, except for northeastern Missouri and Mississippi Lowlands.
Grows on rich, wooded slopes and valleys.
Common forest wildflower.
Bloodroot is a favorite garden plant, but make sure you purchase plants grown by respectable nurseries that propagate plants without harming wild populations. In the past, Native Americans used the sap for dyes, and the rootstock has been used medicinally for its antiseptic and emetic properties.
Even humble plants that are dormant most of the year contribute to the complexity of the ecosystem, binding the soil with their rootstocks, providing pollen during their blooming time, and supplying herbivores with nourishment.
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About Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants in Missouri
A very simple way of thinking about the green world is to divide the vascular plants into two groups: woody and nonwoody (or herbaceous). But this is an artificial division; many plant families include some species that are woody and some that are not. The diversity of nonwoody vascular plants is staggering! Think of all the ferns, grasses, sedges, lilies, peas, sunflowers, nightshades, milkweeds, mustards, mints, and mallows — weeds and wildflowers — and many more!