In the hill woods above the river the oaks and hickories look down on the new life which has burst over night from the leaf-strewn floor of the forest.


Sanguinaria canadensis L.

Early spring Woods.

Here are bloodroot flowers sparkling pure white in the sun, flowers which are brief and bright and beautiful, flowers which come early and quickly go. All winter they lay quiescent and frozen beneath the surface of the earth, lay beneath the protecting cover of old oak leaves which year after year soften and crumble and are added to the richness and looseness of the soil. Under this, in tight fat buds, in stout, crisp root-stocks, the bloodroot flowers and leaves in miniature were stored all winter.

Now a day which brings out a hibernating mourning cloak butterfly from behind a shag of hickory bark and wakens the cricket frogs in the marsh sees clumps or masses of bloodroot in bloom.

The plants push up quickly, pale grey-green veiny leaves wrapped around the pale pink stem with the pearly white bud at the top. Quickly after a spring rain, the stem extends above the curled leaf which unfolds broadly at last. The pearl of a bud, which now is like a white egg on the tip of the juicy stem, opens with eight white petals and a yellow center. A day, and then one by one the white petals drop to the moss and the seed pod begins immediately to form. By summer the bloodroot has completely disappeared, its growth done, food stored in the root, a plant formed in miniature in the bud, ready Cor winter and next spring.

The root of bloodroot is thick, dark red-brown, gnarled, and when it is cut it exudes a ruddy juice which looks much like thin blood. The upper parts of the plant contain a yellowish juice which shows the blood-root's kin-hip with the poppy, to which it is closely related.