Where does bloodroot grow?

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Flowers. Photo by Sheri George.FlowerNew leaf unfurling; photo by Denise Hartline.
Foliage as groundcover

The members of the Georgia Native Plant Society have chosen bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) as our Plant of the Year for 2012. This woodland perennial is a member of the Papaveraceae (Poppy) family and is known as a spring ephemeral because its flowers have a life span of only a few days. Before it even blooms, bloodroot is quite a sight when it pushes through the leaf litter to emerge in late winter or early spring. Each flower stalk is cloaked with its own grayish-green, beautifully veined leaf, which unfurls as the flower opens. The flowers are typically 2 inches across, with 8 to 16 pure white (sometimes tinged with pink) petals surrounding a central tuft of golden yellow stamens. They open in sunlight when the temperature is higher than 46 degrees Fahrenheit and close when darkness begins to fall. After a few days of exquisite beauty, the petals will fall to the ground. Then the seed pod begins to develop and bloodroot’s distinctive scalloped leaf will continue to grow, eventually attaining a size of up to 10 inches across and 12 to 14 inches in height. The leaves can persist into late summer if there is sufficient soil moisture. If the soil is dry, the leaves will simply go dormant earlier.

When bloodroot flowers are in bloom, small bees, ants, wasps, and beetles are pollinators that visit the flowers for nectar. If the flowers are not pollinated in three days, the stamens will bend down to touch the stigma and self-pollination occurs. Our native ants have a mutually beneficial relationship called myrmecochory with many plants, including bloodroot, in which ants eat a part of the seed and disperse the seeds in the process. The ripe seeds have an appendage, high in fat and sugar, called an elaiosome. The fat and sugar are nutritious food for the ants, so they carry the seeds back to their colony using the eliasome as a handle. After the ants have eaten the eliasome, they dispose of the seed in their waste tunnels. The waste tunnels are filled with rich organic matter, so the seeds are safe from seed eating creatures and a new bloodroot plant will grow in a new location.

The common name bloodroot and scientific name Sanguinaria (“sanguis” means blood in Latin) come from the blood-red sap that is found in all parts of the plant, especially in the thickened roots called rhizomes. Native Americans used bloodroot sap as a dye for baskets and clothing, mixed it with animal fat for use as body paint, and used it as a remedy for various ailments.

In some tribes single men rubbed the sap on their hands and would then find a way to shake hands with the girl of their desire. It was believed that after several days of this the girl would be ready to marry the man. In more recent times the sap was found to contain the poison alkaloid, sanguinarine. Sanguinarine is toxic if taken internally. Just to be safe, it’s probably a good idea to wash your hands after handling bloodroot rhizomes and take care not to get any of the sap in an eye or in your mouth.

Bloodroot is best grown in lightly acidic woodland conditions with rich, moist, well-drained soils in partial to full shade. Under such conditions it will spread over the years to form large colonies that are spectacular in flower and impressive as a ground cover after the flowers are gone. Bloodroot rhizomes are brittle, but are easier to work with in the fall when the weather is cooler. When planting bloodroot, choose a location with good drainage and amend the soil with lots of compost or other organic matter. Place 3″ to 4″ sections of the rhizomes just below the surface of the soil. Avoid heavy mulch; normal leaf litter that collects under deciduous trees is what they do best in. Plant bloodroot at the edges of woods or close to a path so you’ll be able to see when the flowers start opening. The white flowers look wonderful planted in drifts. Companion plants might include spring beauty (Claytonia virginica) and liverleaf (Hepatica americana) along with other early spring blooming woodland wildflowers.

Bloodroot’s early and fleeting beauty is all the more reasons to use this lovely native woodland plant.

Prepared by Denise Hartline, for the Georgia Native Plant Society.

  • Scientific name: Sanguinaria canadensis
  • Common Name: Bloodroot
  • Scientific Name Pronunciation: san-gwin-AR-ee-uh ka-na-DEN-sis
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Hardiness Zones: 3-8
  • Usual Size: 6-9 in. H X 4-6 in. W
  • Flower: White or pink tinged flowers that are about 2 inches across and usually emerge from the soil wrapped in the leaf; the flowers have 8-10 petals with numerous yellow stamens in the center, each borne on its own stalk; flowers open during the day and close at night, but usually only last one to two days.
  • Bloom Time Notes: Spring
  • Leaf: One greyish-green leaf which is deeply scalloped with 5 to 9 lobes; in most instances, it surrounds the flower when it emerges from the soil; the leaves continue to grow, as much as 9 inches across, before the plant goes dormant in mid to late summer; how long the leaves last is directly related to soil moisture.
  • Fruit: A fleshy capsule with seeds inside
  • Natural Habitat: Grows naturally in moist to dry woods and thickets near streams on slopes or in the floodplain of the stream.
  • Propagation: Can be propagated when dormant by cutting the rootstock and leaving an “eye” or growing point on each piece or by seed.
  • Cultural Notes:

    Best grown in partial to full shade in humusy well-drained soil with medium moisture; much more dramatic when planted in masses and allowed to naturalize. Although the flowers are short-lived, the leaves are attractive and provide interest until they go dormant; the reddish-orange sap of the plant has been used as a dye.

    Other Common Names: Puccoon, Red Puccoon, Indian Paint, Redroot, Pauson, Tetterwort

2005 Bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis)

Bloodroot
Sanguinaria canadensis

Throughout eastern North America, a patch of bloodroot blooming on a woodland hillside is one of the cherished early signs of spring.

Description

Bloodroot is an herbaceous perennial that grows from a persistent, branched underground stem or rhizome. Early each spring, while the forest canopy is still bare, each well-developed rhizome tip produces one leaf and one flower stalk. The leaf is kidney-shaped in its overall outline, but it is also divided into a pattern of rounded lobes and sinuses, rendering a complex overall shape. At flowering time, bloodroot leaves form a loose vertically-oriented collar around the flower stalk with the bluish-green lower leaf surface forming the outside of the collar; as the season progresses, the leaves open flat and expand to their full size, which commonly ranges from six to eight inches across, and held about a foot above the ground, but leaves can become larger in favorable locations.

The flower buds are enclosed by a pair of sepals that promptly fall away as the flower opens. Petals are white or pale pink, relatively narrow, and variable in number from 8 to 16 or so. The bright yellow stamens number from 12 to 24. At the center of the flower there is a single greenish simple pistil with a short style and bi-lobed stigma. Inside the ovary, two rows of ovules are attached along the suture line of the carpel margins. The ovary forms a tapered cylindrical follicular fruit that opens while still more or less pale green or with just a hint of yellowing. The seeds are black or dark reddish brown, and fitted with an oil-rich appendage known as an elaiosome.

Derivation of Names and Relationships

Linnaeus gave bloodroot its scientific name, Sanguinaria canadensis. The genus name is based on sanguinarius(Latin, bleeding), a reference to the reddish latex found in the rhizome, petiole and flower stalk and the species name means “from Canada.” Bloodroot is classified in the poppy family, Papaveraceae. Thus, it is related to the celandine or wood poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum), as well as the various species of poppy frequently cultivated in gardens and the notorious opium poppy, Papaver somniferum.

Chemistry

Like other members of the poppy family, bloodroot contains alkaloid molecules that are responsible for both toxic and therapeutic effects. Thus, the plant can be considered both poisonous and medicinal. There is a long tradition of use in folk medicine and bloodroot extracts can be found as an ingredient in over-the-counter oral hygiene products. Pharmacological studies demonstrate antibacterial and antitumor activities, but the same constituents also have deleterious effects on fundamental metabolic processes of human cells. Despite folk tradition, ingestion of bloodroot products cannot be recommended. The red pigments contained in the latex can be used to dye fabrics or craft items like baskets.

Ecology

Bloodroot grows in the shade of deciduous trees. It prefers rich sandy soils, but can tolerate clay if the site is well-drained. Bloodroot ranges throughout the eastern deciduous forest region, from southern Canada to the Gulf coast and westward to the Great Plains. Flowering dates vary from year to year. Throughout much of Virginia, flowers can be expected sometime in March, or somewhat later at higher elevations. Ants gather the seeds for the food value of the elaiosome and, in doing so, they disperse seeds away from parent plants.

Cultivation and Propagation

Bloodroot adapts well to cultivation. Garden conditions that mimic its natural woodland habitat are best. Thus, a site under deciduous trees will provide sunlight in late winter to early spring and shade in the summer. Moderately rich soil and good drainage are recommended. In overly moist soils, the rhizomes are subject to decay. Bloodroot grows well from seeds provided that they are planted promptly, as soon as the fruits open. If the elaiosome is allowed to dry while still attached to the seeds, germination is severely inhibited. Also, seedlings from ant-dispersed seeds will be common around established garden specimens. Large plants can also be propagated by division of the rhizome when the plant is dormant, i.e., fall or very early spring.

Bloodroot is frequently available in the commercial nursery trade, but to preserve wild populations, responsible gardeners should insist on purchasing only nursery-propagated specimens. There is a large-flowered variety, S. canadensis var. grandiflora and forms with “double” flowers are known horticulturally as cv ‘Multiplex’ or ‘Flore-pleno.’ The showy large-flowered and double forms are preferred by some in garden settings. Although bloodroot flowers are short-lived, its bold leaves provide a distinctive textural feature in the woodland garden. Mulching will help to conserve foliage during summer.

Where it Grows

Bloodroot grows in deciduous woodlands throughout Virginia. Beyond the Old Dominion, bloodroot can be found from southern Canada to the Gulf Coast and westward to the limits of deciduous forest in the central plains. It is also well-represented in public and private woodland gardens throughout eastern North America.

Conservation

The main threats to this common native species are habitat destruction and collection of wild plants for horticulture or medicinal use.

Caution to Gardeners

Gardeners should not collect bloodroot in the wild and should be certain that all native plants purchased for home gardens are nursery-propagated, not wild-collected. For a list of retail sources of nursery-propagated plants and responsibly collected seeds, see elsewhere on this Website

Text from 2005 Virginia Wildflower of the Year brochure, written by W. John Hayden and adapted by him for the Web, December 30 2004.

Bloodroot

Scientific Name: Sanguinaria canadensis
Description:
The bloodroot flower resembles a water lily and has 8–16 white petals around a golden yellow centre. There are two sepals that fall as the flower opens. The plant’s large, round leaves have several deep lobes.
Bloodroot gets its name from its underground stems, also called rhizomes, that contain a red juice. This also inspired its Latin name, Sanguinaria, which means bloody or blood red.

Photo Gallery:
(Please note — these photos are unverified images submitted by members of the CWF Photo Club.)

Range: Bloodroot can be found from southeast Manitoba through to Nova Scotia
Habitat: Bloodroot’s natural habitat is in or at the edge of rich, moist woods.
Behaviour:

Bloodroot has separate stems for the flower and the leaf, and it reaches an average height of 10–25 centimetres at maturity. In April or early May, the bloodroot flower bud appears, wrapped protectively inside the leaf. As the flower opens, so, too, does the leaf.

Primary Ecosystem Roles:

Native bees and flies may pollinate bloodroot flowers — and get pollen in return — provided the early spring weather is warm enough for them to be active. If not, the flower is able to self-pollinate, with its anthers (male part) reaching down to deposit pollen in the stigma (female part).

Certain native ants have a win-win relationship with bloodroot. They carry the bloodroot seeds to their homes and eat the seeds’ nutritious outer layer. The bloodroot seeds are still viable after the ant feast and are protected in a chamber within the ant nest. This chamber, along with the ants’ refuse of organic matter, provides a fertile place for the seeds to germinate. While bloodroot does spread by its rhizomes, the additional boost from ants serves to speed up the process, helping bloodroot populations to expand at a time when destruction of its habitat is rampant.

By Sarah Coulber

When the snow starts melting and days grow longer, I am eager to go walking in the woods. The earth smells of spring, the birds are full of song and the forest floor is carpeted with spring flowers.

Wherever there are stands of deciduous trees — trees that lose their leaves for the winter — there is the possibility of finding the delicate blossoms of spring ephemerals. Spring ephemerals are flowers that make the most of the light that shines down through the open canopy in early spring. It is at this time that they bloom and reproduce. Then they quiet down by late spring when the leaves are fully sprouted on the trees overhead.
While some flowers are easy to see, others require a slow pace and a keen eye to spot. I have discovered untouched areas blanketed with the fresh white of showy trillium or with the less noticeable, but equally lovely, trout lily. Once your eye gets used to spotting these spring flowers, you will notice them almost everywhere!

One impressive spring ephemeral is bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). This member of the poppy family has a short blooming period, but it puts on a good show to make up for that. It also has large green leaves that persist through the summer, serving as a useful ground cover.

Uses

The roots of bloodroot are extremely poisonous although North American Indians have used it for medicinal preparations and as an insect repellent. The red juice from the plant has also been used as a dye for clothing and for decorating skin, various tools and household items.

According to Mary Predny and James Chamberlain, authors of Bloodroot, Sanguinaria Canadensis, An Annotated Bibliography, research is being conducted about the use of bloodroot as an animal feed as well as a pesticide.

Caution: We are not recommending the use of these plants for medicinal or food purposes. Many plants are poisonous or harmful if eaten or used externally. The information on food and medicinal value is only added for interest. This information has been gathered from books and its accuracy has not been tested.

Propagation

Seeds typically ripen a month after flowering. It is best to plant seeds at this time to give them a natural period of several weeks of cold and then several weeks of warmth for germination. If you are collecting the red-brown seeds from your own plants, watch the pods carefully because once they start to split, the seeds will disperse quickly.

You can also divide the rhizomes. William Cullina, in his book The New England Wild Flower Society Guide to Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada, explains his success in dividing rhizomes once the plant is dormant in the fall. Cut the rhizome into “3- to 4-inch segments and just below the surface in a moist but well-drained, lightly shaded place.”

Care

Bloodroot prefers its natural habitat of rich soil under deciduous trees and shrubs. It thrives in deep shade or partial shade with gentle, early morning light. But if you keep the soil moist and well drained, the bloodroot plant may be able to handle more sun. Applying leaf mulch helps to imitate the conditions found in the forest and provides nourishment as the leaves decompose. Leaf mulch also offers protection during the cold northerly winters and the drying summer heat. Refrain from mulching too heavily, however, as this can contribute to stem rot.

Growing native plants can save time and money, and be rewarding for both humans and our wildlife neighbours.

Learn more about growing native plants in your garden.

To find a native plant supplier near you, try our list of Canadian nurseries.

The above photo shows two favorite early spring blooming flowers: Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) and Carolina spring beauty (Claytonia caroliniana). Bloodroot grows in the central and eastern portions of North America.

Early within its life cycle each spring, the Bloodroot plant is only about 3 to 6 inches tall.

Its leaf shape varies — depending on whether this perennial plant is still young in age (number of years) or whether it is older. This next grouping shows the leaves of more senior Bloodroot plants later in the season. They are now about 12 inches tall.

After the petals drop from the Bloodroot flowers, the pistil’s ovary remains and matures into the seed capsule.

Here’s a close look at some immature seeds.

When ready, the seed capsule splits open and the seeds drop to the ground to be picked up and dispersed by ants interested in the attached elaiosome. You can just see the broken seed capsule — with some seeds still attached — if you look carefully in the center of the photo.

Bloodroot is a perennial with a rhizome. Its common name (and scientific name) highlight the blood red characteristic of the cut rhizome.

Watch this video for many more photos and a narrative of Bloodroot throughout one year of its life.

Podcast: Play in new window | | Embed

(Here’s the same video as posted on YouTube.)

Overall At-Risk Score:47

Latin Name:

Sanguinaria canadensis L. var. rotundifolia (Greene) Fedde¹

Common Name:

Bloodroot; Bloodword, Red Root, Red Puccoon

Family:

Sanguinaria canadensis L. var. rotundifolia (Greene) Fedde¹ Bloodroot; Bloodword, Red Root, Red Puccoon

Papaveraceae (Poppy Family)

Geographic Region:

Habitat:

Bloodroot grows best in light-to-medium well-drained soils and can tolerate a wide pH range, with optimal growth in soils of pH 5–7 or higher. Its favored position is open woods but it may also be found along fences and in tree fall clearings.”²

Lifespan:

Perennial;

Reproduction:

Showy white, hermaphroditic flowers appear in early springs. Lasting only a few days before wilting and self pollinating, flowering normally occurring in March and April. May through June the plant develops cylindrical-teardrop shaped seed pods that ripen and open in July.
S. canadensis is a myrmecochoric plant, meaning its seed dispersal relies primarily on ants carrying away their seed and eating the rich lipid coating (or elaisome).

Part of Plant Used/Active Medicinal Compounds:

The rhizome has been used in many different ways for many different treatments; as well as a dye for wood and fabric, due to the latex in the root creating a bright red-orange juice (hence the common name). Ojibwe would make lozenges with small pieces of root and maple sugar. Several native tribes used the root in teas and powders to treat colds, congestion, and flu-like symptoms. In larger doses, it was used as an abortive and emetic tea or orally ingested paste.²The rhizome is a host of several active alkaloids that have medicinal properties for a wide range of treatments. Sanguinarine and chelerythrine are the major quaternary benzophenanthridine alkaloids present in S. canadensis.

Sangrovit, a compound found in the rhizome of S. canadensis, has been adopted in the EU as a common food additive in agriculture and aquaculture, to function as an antibiotic and antiparasitic alternative to now banned pharmaceuticals.²

Vulnerability of habitat/changes of habitat quality and availability:

As a myrmecochoric plant, seed dispersal relies primarily on ants. The introduction of non-native invasive ants has threatened the effectiveness of this seed dispersal method, as non-native fire ant species often damage the seed when eating the elaisome and frequently deposit seeds in unsuitable growing conditions. Just like many eastern woodland species the loss of habitat has had a great impact on S. canadensis populations, with the loss of open shaded woodlands to invasive shrubs and dense growing trees.

Demand and Relative Acreage Needed to Meet Demand:

A vast majority of commercially harvested Bloodroot is exported to Europe to be used in livestock feed. “A report completed for the North Carolina Consortium on Natural Medicinal Products indicated that 135,000 lbs of bloodroot were sold to the industry in 2001. The market value of this amount was estimated at $1.89 million dollars. With growing sales, the demand could go up quickly. Seventy-five percent of the bloodroot dealers responding to the questionnaire indicated they could have sold more bloodroot in 2001.”³

Wild Harvesting Impact On Other Species:

Ametuer harvesters and careless poachers can easily mistake Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla) with Bloodroot, due to the visual similarities of the flowers, leafs, and roots. Twinleaf lacks the medicinal alkaloids and the deep red latex in its roots. J. diphylla is endangered in Georgia and New Jersey, and threatened in Iowa and New York.⁴

Recommendations for industrial and home use:

Sustainable cultivation of S. canadensis is incredibly important as demand for the plant increases, but almost all Bloodroot sold commercially is wild harvested.

Photo Credit: By Spencer (Own work) , via Wikimedia Commons

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis L.)

Adapted from:
Greenfield, J. Davis, J.M. and K. Brayman, 2006. NC State Horticultural Leaflets: Bloodroot. Department of Horticultural Science. College of Agriculture & Life Sciences. North Carolina State University. Available online: NC State Horticultural Leaflets

Botanical Information
Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis L., is a member of the Papaveraceae family. It is a native spring wildflower that grows in rich woodlands of North America from Nova Scotia to Florida and west to Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Manitoba. It can grow in full sun, but is more often found in semi-shaded, light-wooded areas with moist, acidic soil. A perennial that grows up to ten inches tall, the plant has a single, basal leaf that can be as wide as eight inches. The flower is located on a separate stalk and is white with a yellow center. Bloodroot is one of the first wildflowers to bloom beginning in late winter and continuing into early spring. The “root”, consisting of a thickened rhizome covered with fibrous roots, is known for its reddish-orange color.. .

Bioactive Components
The main bioactive components of bloodroot are alkaloids, primarily sanguinarine. Others include chelerythrine, berberine, and oxysanguinarine. Sanguinarine is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.

Uses and Treatments
Bloodroot was a traditional medicine used by many American Indian tribes to treat fever and rheumatism. Other traditional uses were for treatment of ulcers, ringworm, and skin infections. It was, and still is, used to produce natural red, orange, and pink dyes. Currently, bloodroot is being studied for use as an anti-cancer agent, particularly for the treatment of skin cancer, and as a dissolving agent for skin growths such as warts. Bloodroot has enjoyed some commercial success in toothpaste and mouthwash as an anti-plaque agent. Internal use of bloodroot, however, is not usually recommended. Germany’s Commission E. has no recommended uses of bloodroot at the current time and many herbalists consider bloodroot too toxic to ever be taken internally. An overdose of bloodroot extract can cause vomiting and loss of consciousness.

Cultivation Practices:Site Selection
Bloodroot prefers a rich moist soil that is well drained with high organic matter content. Moisture is important throughout the growing season. Consider that in its natural habitat, it is found in deep shaded to open woodland areas. Select an area with a humus-rich soil and a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. If the soil pH is too low, it can be raised with lime.

Bloodroot can be cultivated under an artificial shade structure or a natural forest canopy at 70%-80% shade. In the woods, bloodroot can be grown intensively in raised beds (referred to as “woods cultivated”), intensively in raised beds under an artificial shade structure (referred to as “shade grown”), or in a low-density, low-input method mimicking how it grows in the wild (referred to as “wild simulated”). If an open field is used, a wood lath structure or polypropylene shade structure can be built to provide the necessary shade. Make the structure seven ft tall or higher with two opposite ends open to the prevailing breeze. For woods cultivated or wild simulated, select a site shaded by tall, preferably hardwood trees, where other compatible woodland plants grow such as Jack-in-the-pulpit, mayapple, trillium, wild ginger, or a native stand of bloodroot.

Planting
Bloodroot propagation is typically done through seed or root division. Unfortunately, at the present time, bloodroot seeds are not readily available in large volumes and rootstock is expensive. Bloodroot is easily propagated by dividing the rhizomes in spring or in fall. Plants can be started indoors from seed or seed can be directly sown into the ground, but the rhizome divisions allow for a faster harvestable root. . .To plant rhizomes, cut them into vertical sections, two inches in length, making sure there is at least one bud attached. There can be up to 12 buds on the rhizome of one bloodroot plant. In a well-prepared 3 ft wide bed, plant rhizome pieces deep enough to cover the top of the rhizome with one to two inches of soil (usually around four inches deep). Any fibrous roots connected to the rhizome pieces can remain attached. Stagger plantings six inches apart, making sure the bud is pointed upright when placing the rhizome pieces in the ground. Mulch beds with at least three inches of shredded hardwood mulch or leaf mulch. Add mulch as needed throughout the growing seasons and supply adequate moisture. While bloodroot does not grow well in a soggy soil, irrigation should be provided during dry periods. Plants should be ready to harvest four to five years after planting rhizomes.

Bloodroot seeds mature in mid to late spring. Oblong seedpods contain the developing seeds, and when mature, the pods open and seeds pop out. If the seeds are not collected, young seedlings will sprout around the mother plant, usually the following spring. To collect bloodroot seed, pouches can be made out of cheesecloth or fine nylon mesh (bridal veil material) to cover the young seedpods before they spring open. The pouch should be put over the immature pod and tied loosely around the stalk. When the seedpod opens, the seeds are released, but are captured in the pouch, instead of scattering to the ground.

UpS RECOMMENDATIONS

*Use cultivated resources only.

*Seek to use analogues or alternative medicinal species.

With seedbeds prepared, plant the fresh seeds one to two inches apart, approximately ¼ inch deep. Never allow fresh seed to dry out. Cover with a two-inch layer of leaf mulch and keep moist. Some germination should occur the following year, but many seeds may not emerge until the second spring. Once the plants have developed small rhizomes (usually after two years), they can be transplanted into regular planting beds. Plants should be ready to harvest six years after planting from seeds.

Insects and Diseases
Slugs can cause some damage on bloodroot foliage in damp seasons and in plantings with wet soils or heavy layers of straw mulch. Control methods that can be tried for slugs include beer traps, diatomaceous earth, and copper strips. Animals that forage on bloodroot include deer, groundhogs, and turkey. Standard control methods include fencing and providing an alternate food source.. .Diseases that infect bloodroot include Alternaria leaf blight, Botrytis (gray mold, leaf blight), and root rot (Pythium). Leaf blights cause premature defoliation of the plant and can reduce root growth and seed set. To prevent leaf blight, avoid planting in areas with poor air circulation and do not crowd plants. If only a few plants are infected, collect and destroy all foliage with the disease symptoms. If more than a few plants are infected, and a positive identification of the disease has been made, various organic control methods may be tried. No studies on control of leaf blight on bloodroot have been published, but the Organic Materials Review Institute (http://www.omri.org/) may be consulted for organic products that are available. Root rots can usually be prevented by planting in raised beds in well-drained soils.

Harvesting, Cleaning, and Drying
Most bloodroot is harvested in the fall. If harvesting in fall, more than likely the leaves will have died back, making it difficult to know where plants are located unless the beds were clearly marked beforehand. If hand digging, a spade fork works well. For larger scale operations, a ginseng digger or potato digger can be used. Great care should be taken not to damage the roots.

Shake the roots free of soil and carefully remove any roots that are not bloodroot. No foreign matter, such as rocks, weeds, bugs, or metal, should be included with the roots. Protect from the sun and heat and do not allow the roots to dry out. Bloodroot is very susceptible to mold and should be processed as soon as possible. Wash the roots with a high-pressure stream of water from a hose or with a root washer. A root washer is typically a rotating drum with water nozzles positioned to spray water on the roots as they tumble. All soil must be removed from the roots. This may require breaking some of the larger roots to get them clean.

Once the roots are clean, dry them in a warm place with high airflow. If a herb dryer is not available, a dehydrator, greenhouse, or room equipped with racks, dehumidifer, heater, and fan can be used. Dry roots at about 950F, with high air-flow, for approximately three to seven days. The goal is to use as low a heat as possible, however, when humidity is high, the temperature in the dryer must be raised. Check roots regularly for mold or deterioration. If roots break without bending, they are dry enough to store. Make sure the larger roots are dried thoroughly. Bloodroot will dry down to approximately 25 % of its fresh weight. Once the roots are completely dry, store in burlap sacks, cardboard barrels, or cardboard boxes, in a cool, dark, dry location. Protect from rodents and insects. Dried roots can be stored for two years.. .If roots are to be kept for planting stock, plant immediately or store in moist sphagnum moss at about 400F. Check frequently, stirring with your hands and inspecting for mold and mildew.

For Further Reading
Cech, R. 2002. Growing At-Risk Medicinal Plants. Horizon Herbs. Williams, OR.

Greenfield, J. and J.M. Davis (eds) 2003. Analysis of the economic viability of cultivating selected botanicals in North Carolina. A report commissioned from Strategic Reports for the North Carolina Consortium on Natural Medicinal Products by North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.

Greenfield, J. and J M. Davis. 2003. Collection to commerce: western North Carolina non-timber forest products and their markets. A report prepared for the U.S. Forest Service. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC. . .

. .Sturdivant, L. and T . Blakley. 1999. Medicinal Herbs in the Garden, Field, and Marketplace. San Juan Naturals. Friday Harbor, W A.

US Department of Agriculture, Crops Research Division Agricultural Research Service. 1960. Index of Plant Diseases in the United States, Agriculture Handbook No. 165. Washington, DC.

FURTHER READING:

Botanical Information

Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis L., is a member of the Papaveraceae family. It is a native spring wildflower that grows in rich woodlands of North America from Nova Scotia to Florida and west to Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Manitoba. It can grow in full sun but is more often found in semi-shaded, light-wooded areas with moist, acidic soil. A perennial that grows up to 10 inches tall, the plant has a single basal leaf that can be as wide as 8 inches. The flower is located on a separate stalk and is white with a yellow center. Bloodroot is one of the first wildflowers to bloom beginning in late winter and continuing into early spring. The “root,” consisting of a thickened rhizome covered with fibrous roots, is easily recognized by its reddish-orange color.

Bioactive Components

The main bioactive components of bloodroot are alkaloids, primarily sanguinarine. Others include chelerythrine, berberine, and oxysanguinarine. Sanguinarine has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Uses and Treatments

Bloodroot was a traditional medicine used by many Native American peoples to treat fever and rheumatism. Other traditional uses were for treatment of ulcers, ringworm, and skin infections. It was, and still is, used to produce natural red, orange, and pink dyes. Currently, bloodroot is being studied for use as an anti-cancer agent, particularly for the treatment of skin cancer, and as a dissolving agent for skin growths such as warts. Bloodroot has enjoyed some commercial success in toothpaste and mouthwash as an anti-plaque agent. Internal use of bloodroot, however, is not usually recommended. Germany’s Commission E. has no recommended uses of bloodroot at the current time, and many herbalists consider bloodroot too toxic to ever be taken internally. An overdose of bloodroot extract can cause vomiting and loss of consciousness.

Cultivation Practices

Site Selection

Because bloodroot is indigenous to a range of eastern forest areas, choosing a site where populations are already present is ideal. Bloodroot prefers a rich, moist soil that is well drained with high organic matter content. Moisture is important throughout the growing season. Consider that in its natural habitat, it is found in deep shaded to open woodland areas. Select an area with a humus-rich soil and a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. If the soil pH is too low, it can be raised with lime.

Bloodroot can be cultivated under an artificial shade structure or a natural forest canopy at 70% to 80% shade. In the woods, bloodroot can be grown intensively in raised beds (referred to as “woods cultivated”), also intensively under an artificial shade structure (referred to as “shade grown”) in raised beds, or in a low-density, low-input method mimicking how it grows in the wild (referred to as “wild simulated”). If an open field is used, a wood lath structure or polypropylene shade structure can be built to provide the necessary shade. Make the structure 7 feet tall or higher with two opposite ends open to the prevailing breeze. For woods-cultivated or wild-simulated cultivation methods, select a site shaded by tall, preferably hardwood trees, where other compatible woodland plants grow, such as Jack-in-the-pulpit, mayapple, trillium, wild ginger, or a native stand of bloodroot.

Planting

Bloodroot propagation is typically done through seed or root division. Unfortunately, at the present time, bloodroot seeds are not readily available in large volumes, and rootstock is expensive. Bloodroot is easily propagated by dividing the rhizomes in spring or fall. Plants can be started indoors from seed, or seed can be directly sown into the ground, but the rhizome divisions allow for a faster harvestable root.

To plant rhizomes, cut them into horizontal sections, 2 inches in length, making sure there is at least one bud attached. There can be up to 12 buds on the rhizome of one bloodroot plant. In a well-prepared 3-foot wide bed, plant rhizome pieces deep enough to cover the top of the rhizome with 1 to 2 inches of soil (usually around 4 inches deep). Any fibrous roots connected to the rhizome pieces can remain attached. Stagger plantings 6 inches apart, making sure the bud is pointed upright when placing the rhizome pieces in the ground. Mulch beds with at least 3 inches of shredded hardwood mulch or leaf mulch. Add mulch as needed throughout the growing seasons and supply adequate moisture. While bloodroot does not grow well in a soggy soil, irrigation should be provided during dry periods. Plants should be ready to harvest four to five years after planting the rhizomes.

Bloodroot seeds mature in mid- to late spring. Oblong seedpods contain the developing seeds, and when mature, the pods open and the seeds pop out. If the seeds are not collected, young seedlings will sprout around the mother plant, usually the following spring. To collect bloodroot seed, pouches can be made out of cheesecloth or fine nylon mesh (bridal veil material) to cover the young seedpods before they open. The pouch should be put over the immature pod and tied loosely around the stalk. When the seedpod opens, the seeds are released but are captured in the pouch instead of scattering to the ground.

With seedbeds prepared, plant the fresh seeds 1 to 2 inches apart, approximately ¼ inch deep. Never allow fresh seed to dry out. Cover the area with a 2-inch layer of leaf mulch and keep it moist. Some germination should occur the following year, but many seeds may not emerge until the second spring. Once the plants have developed small rhizomes (usually after two years), they can be transplanted into regular planting beds. Plants should be ready to harvest six years after planting from seeds.

Insects and Diseases

Slugs can cause some damage on bloodroot foliage in damp seasons and in plantings with wet soils or heavy layers of straw mulch. These control methods can be tried for slugs: beer traps, diatomaceous earth, and copper strips. Animals that forage on bloodroot include deer, groundhogs, and turkey. Standard control methods include fencing and providing an alternative food source.

Diseases that infect bloodroot include Alternaria leaf blight, Botrytis (gray mold, leaf blight), and root rot (Pythium). Leaf blights cause premature defoliation of the plant and can reduce root growth and seed set. To prevent leaf blight, avoid planting in areas with poor air circulation and do not crowd plants. If only a few plants are infected, collect and destroy all foliage with the disease symptoms. If more than a few plants are infected, and a positive identification of the disease has been made, various organic control methods may be tried. No studies on control of leaf blight on bloodroot have been published, but the Organic Materials Review Institute (http://www.omri.org/) may be consulted for organic products that are available. Root rots can usually be prevented by planting in raised beds in well-drained soils. If irrigation is used, water should be applied early or late in the day, especially during periods of high temperatures that favor fungal growth.

Harvesting, Cleaning, and Drying

Most bloodroot is harvested in the fall, but some is harvested and sold in spring. If harvesting in fall, more than likely the leaves will have died back, making it difficult to know where plants are located unless the beds were clearly marked beforehand. If hand digging, a spade fork works well. For larger scale operations, a ginseng digger or potato digger can be used. Great care should be taken not to damage the roots.

Shake the roots free of soil and carefully remove any roots that are not bloodroot. No foreign matter, such as rocks, weeds, bugs, or metal, should be included with the roots. Protect from the sun and heat and do not allow the roots to dry out. Bloodroot is very susceptible to mold and should be processed as soon as possible. Wash the roots with a high-pressure stream of water from a hose or with a root washer. A root washer is typically a rotating drum with water nozzles positioned to spray water on the roots as they tumble. All soil must be removed from the roots. This may require breaking some of the larger roots to get them clean.

Once the roots are clean, dry them in a warm place with high airflow. If a herb dryer is not available, a dehydrator, greenhouse, or room equipped with racks, dehumidifier, heater, and fan can be used. Dry roots at about 95°F, with high air flow, for approximately three to seven days. The goal is to use as low a heat as possible; however, when humidity is high, the temperature in the dryer must be raised.

Check roots regularly for mold or deterioration. If roots break without bending, they are dry enough to store. Make sure the larger roots are dried thoroughly. Bloodroot will dry down to approximately 25% of its fresh weight. Once the roots are completely dry, store in burlap sacks, cardboard barrels, or cardboard boxes, in a cool, dark, dry location. Protect from rodents and insects. Dried roots can be stored for two years.

To date, we are unaware of much commercial acreage having been harvested in the United States.

Potential yield per acre of the dried root, based on research plots planted in beds, is estimated at about 1,500 pounds. If roots are to be kept for planting stock, plant immediately or store in moist sphagnum moss at about 40°F. Check frequently, stirring with your hands and inspecting for mold and mildew.

Marketing and Economics

Annual Consumption and Dollar Value

World consumption of bloodroot has declined over the past 10 years. In 2003, consumption reached about 39,590 pounds of dried bloodroot. In 2004, consumption fell to about 11,487 pounds of dried bloodroot, with a further decline to under 5,328 pounds in 2005. Fresh bloodroot is rarely traded, with only 23 pounds in circulation in 2005.

Dried bloodroot root is sold by collectors or growers to dealers for about $6 to $8 per pound, a decrease from about $10 in 2001.

Supply and Demand

In 2005, the Commission of European Communities stipulated that continual use of synthetic antibiotic compounds incorporated into livestock feed as a way to fatten cattle must be stopped. This action was taken in response to scientific evidence that these synthetic antibiotics are transmitted to humans via meat consumption and make humans more resistant to certain drugs.

Before that ruling went into effect, a German-based company had started using bloodroot as an alternative ingredient to synthetic antibiotics in cattle feeds in Europe. As a result, many growers in North Carolina started growing bloodroot, and a North Carolina State University graduate student did her thesis project on propagation of the plant. However, the company soon found an alternative source that was cheaper and grew much faster than bloodroot. We suspect that the low trade volumes beginning in 2003 were the result of that company opting to use Chinese plume poppy (Macleaya cordata) as an alternative source for the sanguinarine they needed.

Bloodroot has been used as a traditional Native American dye, with the stem, flower, and roots all being used to make varying shades of yellow and red. Crafters who use bloodroot for this purpose generally wild harvest plants for their own use, but as more companies are looking to expand into the valuable “natural” marketplace, it is possible that this dye could be used in place of synthetic dyes and demand could increase.

Bloodroot is also used as a homeopathic expectorant and cough remedy as well as in homeopathic preparations for the treatment of menopause symptoms and headache. It was used as an antibacterial agent in toothpastes and mouthwashes to reduce the buildup of dental plaque in the 1980s. Topically, it is used in escharotic salves for removing skin cancers and moles. There continues to be a small but steady demand for bloodroot for these uses.

The market for native plants should not be overlooked. Bloodroot has a beautiful flower and is one of the first plants to bloom on the forest floor in the spring. Many residents of southern Appalachia are buying bloodroot as ornamental plants in home landscaping.

Pricing

Prices for this botanical continue to trade in a low to medium price range compared with other medicinal herbs. Prices paid to wild harvesters, or in the rare case to growers cultivating bloodroot, were in the $6 to $8 range at the time of this writing. Wholesale prices for dried bloodroot averaged around $22, while retail prices averaged about $41.

Distribution Channels

Bloodroot is wild harvested in North America by small producers located throughout its natural range, mostly along the Appalachian range. Small pockets of cultivation can be found in India, as well as in some areas of the United States and Canada. Distribution channels for this material are highly structured. Established brokers represent a small number of large customers.

Commercial Visibility

As noted, some European companies explored the use of bloodroot in animal feed, but the product was not commercialized on a large scale. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of bloodroot for this reason.

Of the major nutraceutical/botanical companies in North America and Europe, 15% offer bloodroot as a standalone product, while 19% supply this material in a product that contains more than one active ingredient. The majority of bloodroot used for animal or human consumption is sold to European and Asian companies for processing.

The nursery industry is also cultivating bloodroot for landscaping and woodland gardens, which may be a very popular market as native plants continue to gain popularity. Bloodroot plants sell in garden centers and specialty shops in North Carolina from $3.50 to $10.00 each.

Conclusion

North Carolina and states with similar natural growing conditions have the potential to become a major producer of cultivated bloodroot, especially in foothill and mountain regions. Native populations of bloodroot can still be found in many piedmont and mountainous counties in the eastern United States.

Core demand for this product in the form of homeopathic remedies, oral care, and skin salves will keep annual growth steady. Any increase in supply from existing cultivated sources located in North America and India will be more than offset by diminishing supplies of wild-harvested material. While there is demand emanating from many markets and shrinking natural populations, the value of bloodroot over the last 10 years has diminished.

As it gains in popularity, bloodroot planting stock should become more in demand and thus create additional market venues.

You may also like to review materials at NCherb, view How to Grow Bloodroot Video and Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) for Medicinal Herbs Training Videos.

Resources

Cech, R. 2002. Growing At-Risk Medicinal Plants. Horizon Herbs, Williams, OR.

Greenfield, J. and J.M. Davis (eds). 2003. Analysis of the economic viability of cultivating selected botanicals in North Carolina. A report commissioned from Strategic Reports for the North Carolina Consortium on Natural Medicinal Products by North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.

Greenfield, J. and J.M. Davis. 2003. Collection to commerce: western North Carolina non-timber forest products and their markets. A report prepared for the U.S. Forest Service. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.

Sturdivant, L. and T. Blakley. 1999. Medicinal Herbs in the Garden, Field, and Marketplace. San Juan Naturals. Friday Harbor, WA.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Crops Research Division, Agricultural Research Service. 1960. Index of Plant Diseases in the United States, Agriculture Handbook No. 165. Washington, DC.

Bloodroot

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.

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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

Want more information on gardening and great plants you can grow? Try:

  • Shade Gardens: You don’t need loads of direct sunlight to create a lush retreat in your yard, garden, or patio space. Learn how to plant a vital shade garden.
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Reviews

Bloodroot, Sanguinaria Canadensis

Bloodroot plants are a small native perennial. They have green leaves with pretty white flowers. The Bloodroot gets its name from the roots that have blood like juice on the inside. This is by far one of the most popular wildflower perennials around. They are famously known for many different reasons. From being a medicinal herb to a beautiful flowering perennial. Whatever your reason for wanting this treasure it is sure not to disappoint. The petite white flowers and big green leaves make this something everyone will stop and pay attention too. Also considered a medicinal perennial the Bloodroot grows best in fully shaded gardens. The small attractive flower blooms appear in early Spring. Super easy to grow and low maintenance. Make sure the soil is relatively moist especially on hot Summer days.

This plant is one of many that are reproduced with the help of ants. The ants are attracted to a part of the plant’s seeds called liposomes. Thus eating and then caring back to their nests. The flowers do not produce nectar, but they do provide pollen. So visits from bees are often, they do not use the flower as food.

Growing this unique perennial is easy. They are planted 2-3 inches deep and softly covered with soil. Watering is required for the first week or so and then only when conditions become very dry. The rain will generally provide enough moisture to sustain the plant quite well.

The Bloodroot has been used for commercial purposes as well.

The FDA has approved the use of sanguinarine as anti-plaque and anti-bacterial agents in toothpaste.

~Great plant for shady areas

~This plant ships bare root year round.

~Bare root bulb/rhizome

~Native to many areas of the USA

~Mature height six to nine inches

~Zones 3-7

~One Year Guarantee

~Bloodroot Blooms Early to mid Spring

Blood Root

Blood Root For Sale Affordable At Tennessee Wholesale

Needs consistent moisture in the soil; Grows slowly.; The stem is smooth with one leaf and flower in bloom; used in herb gardens as a pest repellant, or in landscapes with other flowers complimented by its coloring. Bloodroot is a flowering plant that blooms white flowers that surround a yellow pistil. It has green leaves at the bottom. Bloodroot plants are early spring bloomers and may be found growing wild in the dappled sun in wooded areas, producing beautiful, solitary flowers. These white bloodroot flowers have 8 to 12 petals growing on leafless stems that rise above the foliage of this charming plant.

Buy Blood Root From A Trusted Nursery Tennessee Wholesale

The herb is native to North America. The leaves are pale green and are wrapped around the flower then opens as the flower grows. When matured the stems are an orange-reddish color. The white flower has about eight petals with a yellow center. The root is tender and thick with juices that will stain the skin. The roots should gather when the flowers are in bloom. Dried roots can be saved to use later. The herb grows from seeds or cuttings; The herb prefers sandy light, moist soil, slightly acidic in shaded areas; These plants provide a very natural look as they grow. These plants can grow to become twelve to fourteen inches tall and love located in moist and well-drained soils. They also thrive when planted in full shade and partially shaded gardens and natural areas. This plant does best when planted in climate zones three through nine.

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