Bloodroot, the root of the sanguinaria Canadensis, called also red-root. This is an herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the poppy family, growing abundantly throughout the United States in rich soils and shady situations, and flowering in March and April. The rootstock or rhizome extends horizontally beneath the surface a few inches in length, and of the size of the finger. It sends forth side shoots, from the ends of which, as well as from that of the main root, rise the scape and leaf stalks, surrounded by the sheath of the bud, all of which spring up together. The leaf is heart-shaped, but deeply lobed, yellowish green on the upper surface, paler on the under, and strongly marked by orange-colored veins. The scape is round and straight, from a few inches to a foot in height, and terminated by a single flower of about eight petals, which are white, but sometimes tinged with rose or purple. All parts of the plant are pervaded by an orange-colored sap, of deepest color in the root. They all possess the same medicinal qualities, but the root only is made use of.
This is dried and pulverized, and is administered while fresh, either in the powder, or in pills prepared from it for the purpose of avoiding the irritating effect of the powder upon the throat, and also in infusion or decoction and tincture. Its properties are those of an acrid narcotic and emetic, in overdose producing violent thirst, faintness, and dimness of vision. In some cases its effects have been fatal. Upon fungous surfaces it acts as an escharotic. It has been found useful in numerous diseases, among which are typhoid pneumonia, catarrh, scarlatina, rheumatism, jaundice, dyspepsia, etc. Many physicians have long relied upon it wholly for the cure of croup. Its active properties appear to reside in a peculiar alkaline principle called san-guinarine, which is separated in the form of a white pearly substance. This has an acrid taste, and forms with the acids salts, all of which, when dissolved in water, produce beautiful red colors.
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis).