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.
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.
Did You Know?
At Lake Itasca, the elevation of the Mississippi River is 1,475 feet above sea level. It drops to sea level at the Gulf of Mexico. More than half of that drop occurs within the state of Minnesota.