• Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

    Mississippi

    National River & Recreation Area Minnesota

Bloodroot

Another of our early spring ephemeral flowers, the beautiful bloodroot has a distinctive broad, lobed leaf that curls around the flower stem cradling the white flower.

The bloodroot prepares for their early bloom the previous year when it stores energy in the form of carbohydrates in its large, fleshy root system. When winter finally releases its hold on the forest floor the bloodroot sends up a flower stalk by drawing on those root reserves. As the reproductive cycle completes the plant once again begins to store food for the next spring.

Fascinating Facts

The scientific name “Sanguinaria” comes from the Latin word sanguineus, meaning bloody or blood-colored. An injured bloodroot plant oozes a blood-red sap.

The flowers, if picked, wilt within minutes. Leave all wildflowers for others to enjoy.

The flowers open each morning and close each evening. They will often remain closed during cloudy or cold weather.

The seeds have an “elaiosome,” a fleshy protuberance whose only purpose is to attract ants, which drag the seeds to other locations and chew off the elaiosome leaving the seed behind. Many spring ephemeral flowers use ants in this way to disperse their seeds.

 
A single white blossom with yellow stamens and the big, wrap-around leaf point to this plant being a bloodroot.
 

Bloodroot
Sanguinaria canadensis

Blooms: April into early May.

Find It

Tell Us
Have you found this plant at other locations within the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (map)? If so, let us know the location by e-mail. Put the word "Plant" in the subject line.

Did You Know?

Itasca, Headwaters of the Mississippi River

The river is so shallow at Lake Itasca that children can walk across the Mississippi. Between Governor Nicholls Wharf and Algiers Point in New Orleans, the Mississippi is more than 200 feet deep.