Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Native Species Profile - Bloodroot

Bloodroot flower surrounded by its leaf

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is a native perennial wildflower that in grows in deciduous forests throughout the eastern United States and Canada.  It's flowers have 8 to 10 white petals surrounding a yellow pistil and stamen topped with orange pollen.  It is pollinated by bees and other flying insects.

In Mid-Michigan, it is one of the earliest blooming wildflowers, often blooming as early as March and sometimes continuing until May.  Individual plants bloom only for a few days.  Like many spring wildflowers it blooms, produces seeds, and dies back for the year before most trees have fully leafed out.

Like many other woodland wildflowers, its seeds are spread by ants.  It also spreads by sending up new stems from undergound rhizomes forming dense colonies over time.

The Bloodroot is named after the red-orange sap that  leaks when a stem or root is broken or cut. This sap is toxic, but was traditionally used by many Native American tribes as a medicine for respiratory illnesses.

It can be found in many deciduous woods throughout Mid-Michigan.

A Bloodroot Colony

Basic Information

Sanguinaria canadensis

Habitat:  Deciduous woodlands

Height:  5 to 10 inches

Flower Color:  White with yellow pistils and stamen

Bloom Time:  March - May

A close-up of the flower

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