Sanguinaria canadensis commonly known as bloodroot is a perennial, herbaceous flowering plant native to eastern North America.
It has also been known as tetterwort, although that name is also used to refer to Chelidonium majus. Plants are variable in leaf and flower shape and have in the past been separated out as different subspecies due to these variable shapes.
Currently most taxonomic treatments include these different forms in one highly variable species. The leaves and flowers sprout from a reddish rhizome with bright orange sap that grows at or slightly below the soil surface.
The rhizomes grow longer each year, and branch to form colonies. Plants start to bloom before the foliage unfolds in early spring.
After blooming the leaves expand to their full size and go summer dormant in mid to late summer. The flowers bloom from March to May depending on the region and weather.
They have 8-12 delicate white petals and yellow stamens, and two sepals below the petals, which fall off after the flowers open. The flower stems are clasped by the leaves.
Bloodroot plants, get their name from the dark red sap found in the stems and roots, which resembles blood. The colored juice from the stems of bloodroot plants can also be used to make red, pink and orange dyes.
You should wear gloves when working with bloodroot plants and practicing bloodroot plant care, however, as leaves and other plant parts are skin irritants to some.
Medicinal usage of bloodroot plants was widespread in centuries past; however, facts about bloodroot plant indicate all parts of the plant are poisonous.
Therefore, it is best left to professionals to extract juices and powder from the roots for use in salves.
Studies are currently underway using bloodroot as a treatment for cancers of the skin, though bloodroot products are expensive and facts about bloodroot plant indicate it is becoming hard to find and is reaching the point of extinction in some areas of the United States.