- Blood Root - Sanguinaria Canadensis Hardy Planting Zones- 3-8 Sun or Shade – Partial to Full Shade Mature Height - 6" Mature Width- 6-10" Bloom Season – April, May Gardener Status - Beginner
Blood Root Plant - Sanguinaria canadensis
Sanguinaria, more commonly known as bloodroot, is a plant with many uses. Other names for the plant include bloodwort, red root, and tetterwort. The plant has flowers with white petals and many tiny yellow bristles coming from the center of the bloom. Bloodroot can grow to be almost 20 inches long and at the base of the plant a bright red rhizome can be seen. The plant blooms from March to May.
The bloodroot is used in decoration for the most part, but it does serve one valuable purpose. It can be used as a natural red dye. For hundreds of years, bloodroot has been used as a dye, even being used by Native Americans to dye their baskets. A red sap from the root of the plant is used as the dye.
The official name of the plant - sanguinaria is telling to the nature of the plant. Sanguine means blood-red and more recently has been used to refer to vampires. The sanguinaria's sap is so red, it takes its name from one of the world's most blood thirsty folktales.
Bloodroot is extremely toxic if eaten. It produces a toxin that also takes its name from the vampire. It is called sanguinarine. As a result of ingesting the plant's sap, a person will suffer from epidemic dropsy, a disease that is only caused by the toxin. The chemical is also toxic if touched, resulting in patches of dead skin where the chemical made contact.
Bloodroot grows naturally in many parts of the United States and Canada. The plant can be found all over the East Coast, even stretching to as far as the Great Lakes and Michigan. The most common place to find bloodroot growing naturally is near streams of water on inclines. It is rare to find a bloodroot plant growing in a clearing or a plain.