Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Flowers: Bloodroot


It was hard to decide which flower to feature for this week. After months of almost no outdoor blooms, I enjoyed seeing several new wildflowers and garden flowers this week. The warm weather of the past few days encouraged the plants to make up for lost time in this late coming spring, and my garden forsythia, daffodils and hyacinths are at their peak.
One of the showiest wildflowers of the early spring is the Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis).

There are masses of them around the hospital and smaller patches along the river flood plain. The delicate flowers are a member of the poppy family. The flowers open before the foliage and the single, large lobed leaf is wrapped around the stem like a blanket as it emerges.

Emerging blooms wrapped in a single leaf

The blooms have eight to twelve petals and the flower is open in the sun but closes at night. The stem and root has a reddish sap which was used as a dye by Native Americans. It has also been used in herbal remedies, but the plant juices are toxic and cause death if taken internally.

I have a corner of my yard dedicated to wild flowers and ferns. I was very tempted to remove some Bloodroot from the bush and plant it in my garden. I found this information on the plant with advice in how to raise it.

No woodland garden is complete without a bloodroot colony. The early white flowers are followed by bold, green leaves, which will persist through most of the growing season. They can be transplanted at any time and will grow in most soils but are best moved when the much expanded leaf is dying down.

Plant them in scattered plantings where the roots will not be disturbed, and pretty much forget them. They will continue to flower and produce seed every year, thereby increasing the size of the colony each year. The plant seems immune to insect and disease attack if well situated in the shade garden.

Bloodroot grows best in a sheltered woodland with bright sun in the early spring and shade when the leaves come out on the hardwood trees. It transplants easily, propagates readily, and if once established will make delightful patches in a few years. This plant is almost always found in colonies.

Plants SHOULD NOT be removed from natural habitats, unless the locality is in danger of destruction or has an over abundance of plants. It's better to obtain the seeds, which have a good germination rate, or to buy plants from a reputable nursery. (source)

We have had heavy rain the past two days. I stopped in the bush at noon yesterday and noticed that the Bloodroot flowers were almost finished, the petals covering the ground beneath the enlarging leaves. How fortunate I was to have seen their brief peak of spring beauty.

Post Script~I posted this and then read Jennifer's latest post in A Passion for Nature about wildflowers. Take a look!

9 comments:

  1. Beautiful bloodroot! I'll be heading of to a wildflower garden in town here next week to see what's bloomin'.

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  2. So lovely. Mine are gone, too. Yes - 'ephemeral'. That word must have been coined to describe the brevity of wild flower bloom.

    The phrase from Frost's poem 'The Oven Bird' always comes to mind this time of year;
    " . . . When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
    On sunny days a moment overcast . . "

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  3. These are so pretty - never knew they might be available from a nursery.

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  4. Those are nice. I'm thinking that I've seen them before but didn't know what they were.

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  5. Ruth, they *are* very pretty. I ran outside to see something similar growing near the feeders but yellow was dull with only 4 petals.

    I've always been fond of wildflowers - they take care of themselves.

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  6. Lynne- Fleeting beauty, but worth planting the short display. The leaves are very attractive too.

    Cathy- I haven't heard that poem, but it is so true that blooms go down in showers. I found a few more late bloomers today in a sheltered area.

    Laura- So pretty, but if you don't look on the right day, you could miss them until next year!

    Larry- I got a wildflower book from the library this week to identify some of those unknown flowers I see each year. I have never recognized them before either.

    Mary- You have the birds, I saw a flower! I prefer anything (or anyone) who can take care of themselves.

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  7. I use to work in a spot that had hundreds and hundreds of bloodroot plants growing their! They are and probably will always be my all time favortie flowers!! Glad you were able to capture the flower, they don't stay open long!

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  8. Tom- I only found masses of them in one area. Otherwise they were quite spread apart.

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  9. I think these were planted this way!

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