Bloodroot

Ojibway: Meskojiibikak
Latin: Sanguinaria canadensis L.

Bloodroot-1

Common Names

  • Puccoon-root
  • Red puccoon
Description

This indigenous plant is among the earliest to bloom of our spring flowers, the waxy-white blossom, enfolded by the grayish green leaf, appears just after the snow has melted. The stem and root contain a blood-red juice. Bloodroot is a perennial that has a thick, horizontal rootstock and produces a single leaf and flower. Covered with a “bloom” such as is found on some fruits, the plant is smoot and both stem and leaves, especially when young, present a grayish green appearance.?The under side of the leaf is paler than the upper side and shows prominent veins. The flower is white, waxlike in appearance, with numerous golden-yellow stamens in the center.

Flowers
Bloodroot-2

2.5 cm (1 in.) across. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs); blooms in April.

Leaves

The leaves are palmately five to nine lobed, the lobes either cleft at the apex or having a wavy margin, and are borne on leaf stems about 12.5-35 cm (5-14 in.) long. The leaves continue to grow after the plants have ceased flowering the leaves, at first only 7.5 cm (3 in.) long and 10-12.5 cm (4-5 in.) broad continue to expand until they are about 10-17.5 cm (4-7 in.) long and 15-30 cm (6-12 in.) broad.

Height

0.2 m by 0.3 m (6 in.) tall.

Habitat

Woodland, Sunny Edge, Dappled Shade, Shady Edge.

Range

Eastern N. America – Nova Scotia to Arkansas and N. Florida, west to Nebraska.

Discussion

Bloodroot was a traditional remedy to treat fevers, blood disorders, rheumatism, to induce vomiting and as an element in divination. In modern herbalism it is chiefly employed as an expectorant, promoting coughing and the clearing of mucus from the respiratory tract. Externally, the root is used in the treatment of skin diseaes, warts, nasal polys, benign skin tumours, and sore throats. It is also used as a natural dye.

Warning

The root is toxic, containing a number of opium-like alkaloids that are also found in other members of this family. An excessive dose depresses the central nervous system, causes nausea and vomiting, and may prove fatal. This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant or lactating women. The sap, fresh or dried, can cause intense irritaion to the mucous membranes.