Blood Root (Sanguinaria candensis)
Bloodroot is also known as Red Root, Red Indian Paint and Red Ruccoon, and it is a member of the Poppy family. It is a native perennial flowering plant which will bloom in early March to May. The flowers are pollinated by flies and bees. It’s seed pods ripen before the foliage goes dormant. The seeds have an organ known as elaiosome that attracts ants. They take the seeds to their nests and eat the elaiosome and leaves the seeds in their nests where they germinate. The flowers are short lived and fall off not long after pollination. The plants will grow to as much as ten inches high.
The Cherokee used Bloodroot in several different ways for crafts and medicine. The roots produce a red dye that is used in basket making and clothing. The Cherokee see the color red as a sign of success. Care is used when preparing the plant for medicine because it can be toxic.
A decoction was used for treating croup, coughs and lung congestion. Roots were beaten into a salve and applied to the skin to treat warts and ringworm. It can also be used to help stop bleeding. A tea was made to treat blood pressure.
Bloodroot can be found in moist to dry woods sometimes in flood plains or near streams. This a where you would want to plant them in your garden. Deer will feed on them in the spring but there are not many plants deer will not eat.
Bloodroot is very hardy once established in your garden. However, it will generally go dormant in late July or August. All but one of the Bloodroot in my garden came from plant rescues. In the spring of 2012 my wife found a single Bloodroot at the very back of our property, so we promptly moved it to our Cherokee Garden so it could be properly protected. Bloodroot is a wonderful addition to any garden.