Bloodroot was one of the first flowers to bloom this year on the south-facing slopes above the Crum Creek. The distinctive single large leaf appears first demurely enfolding the flower stem, and later unfurls. The fruit, although more oval than that of garden poppies, is a clear sign that the plant belongs in the poppy family. Sanguinaria gets its common and scientific names from the red color of its rhizome, whose juice is apparently potent enough to make a dye. This juice is also a flesh-destroying toxin, and has some traditional medicinal uses that reflect that property (source).
Samuel B. Palmer
Biology Dept.
Swarthmore College
Sanguinaria canadensis
Friday, April 14, 2006