Beautiful white pinwheel flowers, followed by lobed, kidney shaped leaves and slender green capsules. Fleshy rhizomes contain a deep red pigment used by native Americans and colonists for dye.
Sanguinaria canadensis, bloodroot, is a perennial, herbaceous flowering plant native to eastern North America. It is the only species in the genus Sanguinaria, included in the family Papaveraceae, and most closely related to Eumecon of eastern Asia.
Sanguinaria canadensis is known as bloodwort, red puccoon root, and sometimes pauson. It has also been known as tetterwort in the US, although that name is used in Britain 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 lump these different forms into one highly variable species. In bloodroot, the juice is red and poisonous.
It is a variable species growing from 20–50 centimetres (7.9–20 in) tall, normally with one large, sheath-like basal multi-lobed leaf up to 12 centimetres (4.7 in) across. Bloodroot stores sap in an orange colored rhizome, that grows shallowly under or at the soil surface. Over many years of growth, the branching rhizome can grow into a large colony. Plants start to bloom before the foliage unfolds in early spring and after blooming the leaves expand to their full size and go summer dormant in mid to late summer.
The flowers are produced from March to April, with 8-12 delicate white petals and yellow reproductive parts. The flowers appear over clasping leaves while blooming and are pollinated by small bees and flies; seeds develop in elongated green pods 40 to 60 mm in length and ripen before the foliage goes dormant. The seeds are round in shape and when ripe are black to orange-red in color, usually carried and planted by ants that consume the fatty elaiosome.