Sanguinaria canadensis, also known as bloodroot, bloodwort, and redroot, is a herbaceous plant named for the bright orange sap that gives the plant’s roots their bloody appearance. Growing 8 to 20 inches tall, this perennial sprouts from rhizomes that that grow at or beneath the surface of the soil and which branch out to form colonies. This plant features one sizeable basal leaf that separates into 5 to seven distinctive lobes; this leaf encircles the stem of the flower as it emerges from the ground and begins to grow. The flowers of the plant comprise of 8-12 dainty white petals that open in the sunlight. These blooms appear in early spring, typically March to May, and are pollinated by small bees and flies. It is considered a spring ephemeral species, and this plant’s leaves unfurl fully after its flowers bloom, and it goes dormant in mid to late summer.
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Native to the eastern region of North America, Bloodroot can be found as far north as Nova Scotia, as far south as Florida, and as far west as the Great Lakes down to the Mississippi embayment. Typically located in floodplains, on the banks of streams or lakes, and in moist to dry woods or small thickets, this plant grows best in areas that are remote or undisturbed. Rated for USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3-9, this plant requires partial sun or shade to thrive, and does best in humus-rich, well-drained soils. In landscaping, this plant makes an attractive addition to shady rock gardens or native plant displays and provides excellent ground cover for areas of deciduous woodlands when left to grow and spread naturally. Drought tolerant and generally low maintenance, these beautiful but unassuming plants are also fantastic additions to container gardens in low-light areas. Combine this plant with other shade-loving woodland varieties, such as trilliums, common hepatica, and yellow trout lily, for a spectacular spring display.