In The Garden Now …. Bloodroot

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Double Flowered Bloodroot

Text and photo by Victoria Gilleland

I'm sure it's spring when the first bloodroot flowers appear! Bloodroot gets its name from the dark red sap found in the stems and roots, which resembles blood. Native Americans used the sap to dye clothing and baskets and to color face paint. It has also been used in various medicinal concoctions to treat an assortment of ailments. Bloodroot is native to eastern North America.

In early spring fluffy white flowers appear and are later framed by unusual scalloped felt like leaves. Six inch tall flowers last for several weeks while grey green leaves are emerging and surrounding them. If the plant receives ample summer water leaves stay on the plant till the end of summer when the plant loses its leaves and goes dormant.

Bloodroot seem to be happiest in partially shaded gardens, although I have seen them growing successfully in the Pacific Northwest in a fair amount of sun. They prefer a moist, humus rich soil and do well when shaded by the leaves of taller shrubs and trees after blooming. 
This is one of those perennials you can add to your garden and not worry about it encroaching on neighboring plants immediately. Over many years a well behaved colony of this early blooming beauty is likely to take shape. So, go for it!

Note: All parts of the Bloodroot plant are poisonous if eaten and the sap can cause skin irritation, so plant away from children and pet play areas. Explain to your children when they can understand that the bloodroot plant is to look at not to eat.

If you would like more information about plant toxicity check out the Washington Poison Center website or call the office at 1-800-222-1222.

Botanical Name:  Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Plena’

Victoria Gilleland is the owner of Cottage Garden Designs, a Garden Design company specializing in Redesign of Residential Gardens, Garden Consultation and Coaching. She has been designing gardens in the northwest for over 20 years.


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