Scientific Name: Sanguinaria canadensis 

This month’s plant is one of our early emerging spring ephemerals. I always love the cigar-like tube of furled leaves that unfurl after the flower has shown itself. This forest floor species is sure to brighten you shade garden in the spring.

As usual, the Plant Description and In the Garden sections are courtesy of Shaun Booth from In Our Nature.

Family: Papaveraceae (Poppy Family) 

Alternate Common Names: Bloodwort, Indian Paint, Puccoon, Red Puccoon 

Plant Description: Bloodroot only has basal leaves. They measure up to 13 cm wide, are lobed into three to nine parts, and have a deep indent at the base. The leaf edges have shallow, rounded teeth and the leaf surfaces are smooth. Flowers open before the leaves fully unfurl in the spring. A single flower is borne at the top of each naked, 10 cm tall, reddish stem. Each flower measures 7.6 cm wide and is characterized by eight to 16 white petals surrounding numerous yellow stamens. Each flower matures into a long, tapered seed capsule that splits open to release 10 to 15 dark red seeds. 

In the Garden: The early, fleeting beauty of Bloodroot flowers is a springtime show you don’t want to miss! Each delicate flower blooms for only one to two days, but the bold leaves that emerge shortly after will persist well into late summer and make an excellent groundcover. The foliage is not often eaten by herbivores. 

Skill Level: Beginner 

Lifespan: Perennial 

Exposure: Full shade to part shade (during early to midspring, this plant should have access to some sunlight, otherwise the flowers may fail to open) 

Soil Type: Well-drained, humus-rich soils 

Moisture: Medium 

Height: 10–20 cm 

Spread: 7.5–15 cm 

Bloom Period: Apr, May 

Colour: White 

Fragrant (Y/N):

Showy Fruit (Y/N):

Cut Flower (Y/N):

Pests: No serious insect or disease problems 

Natural Habitat: Rich deciduous woods and forests 

Wildlife Value: Pollen of the flowers attracts various kinds of bees and other insects 

Butterfly Larva Host Plant For: None 

Moth Larva Host Plant For: Southern Armyworm (Spodoptera eridania) and the Tufted Apple Bud Moth (Platynota idaeusalis

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–8 

Propagation: The most reliable method of propagation is by seed, which have a double dormancy requiring two 30-day periods of cold separated by a 30-day mild period. Seeds must not be allowed to dry out and are best planted immediately following harvest. In nature they take two years to sprout, and some seeds may not sprout for two years even with artificial stratification. Plants can be propagated by rhizome division in either fall or early spring, but wear gloves and wash your hands after handling the roots as the sap is potentially toxic. Bloodroot is a challenge to germinate and grow to maturity. I have had considerable success growing new Bloodroot plants from pieces that break off when being dug in my garden, as long as there is a piece of root still attached. 

Additional Info: Bloodroot seeds are dispersed by ants, which take the seeds back to their nest to consume the energy-rich appendage called the elaiosome before discarding the seed. 

Range Map: