Sanguinaria canadensis


Another plant I never want to be without: Sanguinaria canadensis, or bloodroot.


This charming spring ephemeral is native to eastern North America. It began blooming for me late last week.

bloodroot unfurling

The flowers are small, perhaps 2 inches across. It emerges from the ground with the leaves tightly furled around the stem. It slowly naturalizes, and propagates easily from root cuttings.

Like all spring ephemerals, it shows off for a short period in the cooler weather of spring, then enters dormancy in summer. The common name “bloodroot” comes from its reddish-colored sap, which Native Americans used for dye.

I don’t do anything in particular to care for this plant. It doesn’t seem to attract any pests or diseases.  It grows well in my acid clay soil without fertilizer or any special soil amendments. I imagine it would spread more rapidly if my soil were more agreeable.

If, like me, you are inclined to periodic bouts of laziness, this plant should do just fine for you in shadier parts of the garden so long as you water it the first year after you plant it.