I’m ecstatic to show you the first BIG triumph in the woodland garden—the reestablishment of bloodroot in an area once overgrown with English ivy. Though a neighboring property has extensive colonies of bloodroot growing on moist banks above the Reedy River, my ivy-infested garden did not.
Luckily, I was able to purchase several 4-inch pots of bloodroot at the 2012 autumn plant sale of the Upstate Chapter of the South Carolina Native Plant Society. Discovering these same plants in bloom this spring has given me as much satisfaction as any previous gardening success.
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) can be found throughout the Eastern seaboard from Nova Scotia to Florida. A member of the poppy family, it is a low-growing perennial herb that sprouts from a thick rhizome. Up to a dozen buds can be produced on a mature rhizome, with each bud generating a single leaf and a single flower. When cut, rhizomes exude an orange-red juice, which accounts for the plant’s common name.
Native Americans used the juice as a dye and body paint, and as a traditional medicine to treat fever, rheumatism, and skin infections. Today, bloodroot is still valued for antiseptic and anti-inflammatory uses and is also being studied as an anti-cancer agent.
Until recently, almost all bloodroot was harvested from the wild. Thankfully, rising prices have made cultivation more worthwhile so nursery sources are now on the increase.
If you crave more wildflowers, visit Gail at Clay and Limestone, the host of Wildflower Wednesday.