green leaf with small white flower above it


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.

Blooms: April into early May.

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.

Want to Help Us Better Understand the Park?

See our iNaturalist project, "The Life of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area" and contribute to it by downloading the iNaturalist app and uploading your sightings of this species, and others, to the project. You can also upload your sightings from your computer.

Last updated: March 7, 2018

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111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55101


This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center.

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