The Bloodroot is one of the very earliest spring flowers. Long before the trees and shrubs take on their vernal foliage, the flower stalks press through the leafmould with the buds snugly enfolded in a delicate silvery, paper-like leaf that seems to serve like the cape of a debutante, from which emerges the single, stately bud, corsaged in a two-parted green calyx. While the leaf is expanding, the bud continues to rise for several inches, and then, fully developed, suddenly bursts open, dropping its calyx and exposing its six, eight or more beautiful, snowy white petals, and a brilliant golden yellow centre of some twenty odd pyramided stamens. The petals are long, narrow and taper at either end. The alternating inner four are distinctly narrower than the outer ones, and form a square, rather than a perfectly round outline. On bright, sunny days the lovely, solitary blossom expands almost flat, and the tips of the petals curve upward with a graceful tilt. They close at night, and remain partly folded on dull days. They are very fragile, and of few days' duration. Wind and rain are their undoing and unless closely watched for, they are more than likely gone to seed ere their beauty has been observed. The blossom is often an inch and a half broad and is sometimes tinted with pink. Soon after the flower is spent the leaves reach the height of ten or twelve inches, and a narrow, pointed seed pod matures in their shadow. The pale, yellow green stems are tinged with red. The leaves, usually two, or often one, are large, coarse-looking, and rounded, deeply lobed or heart-shaped at the base, and toward the end more or less indented, with from one to five smaller lobes, with their edges slightly toothed. The smooth, rich green upper surface is strongly veined, and the under side is silvery white and coarsely veined. The thick, fleshy, blunt-ended, perennial root contains a copious deep orange-red sap which is both acid and astringent. This sap is also present in the stems and leaves and they "bleed" instantly when broken. The Indians made ample use of the Bloodroot. The brilliantly coloured juice was used for staining their faces and arms when preparing themselves for their peace or war dances. The squaws utilized it also for decorating skins and baskets. It served their medicine men when catering to their bodily ailments. At the present time Bloodroot is employed as a remedy in bronchial troubles. Many grandmothers can tell how they used to dole out drops of its bitterish blood on a spoonful of soft sugar to those of the family circle who became afflicted with a cough or a cold. Sangui-naria vinegar, made from the rootstock, has a domestic ring, and is used locally for ringworm and also as a gargle for sore throat. Bloodroot is found from Nova Scotia to Ontario and Nebraska, southward to Florida and Arkansas, during April and May. It prefers rich, open woodlands, and especially rocky slopes where the soil is loose and well drained.
BLOODROOT. Sanguinaria canadensis.