One of our favorite early spring flowers, bloodroot, is one of the first native woodland plants to bloom. The bright white petals and golden center shine in the sunlight when most of the garden is just barely stirring. They are a joy to watch emerge because the single flower grows on a long stem and opens before the leaves do. So, just before it opens, the little bud is enveloped in the plant’s deeply lobed leaves that are still curled tightly. The bloodroot flowers only open during the day and reclose in the late afternoon.
The plant gets its name from the red juice that comes from the roots when they are broken. Native Americans used the juice for dye. The roots and juice are poisonous so don’t eat them! Some people may find the juice to be a skin irritant.
Bloodroot grows in rich deciduous forests and grow well and will spread if their natural growing conditions are reproduced. They are most happy inhumus rich soil, under some hardwoods, receiving dappled sunlight. There they will spread slowly to form a beautiful green layer of uniquely shaped leaves. They must be kept moist however or they will quickly go dormant resulting in a patch of bare ground that remains until the next spring.