Every spring when (or if) I come across the first Blood Root, I just can’t wipe the smile off of my face, and my heart fills with joy. For me, they are the early spring gems of the forest floor. You’ll find them before the trees leaf out, and I tend to find them on shady, moist forest slopes. Although I tagged this as a spring ephemeral, it’s really not, as it retains it’s leaves and actively grows during the summer months.
This plant gets its name from the bright orange/red juice from the stem and rhizome. This juice was used by Native Americans as a dye for baskets, clothing, war paint, as well as for insect repellent. The roots are fatal if ingested.
Size: flower up to 2" across Family: Papaveraceae (Poppy family) Habitat: Moist to mesic forests, well-drained, humus-rich soils, shade and part shade. Identifiers: Solitary white flower on a stalk with a golden orange center, and a single large blue-green deeply lobed leaf. The fruit is an elongated green capsule. Blooms March-April. Perennial.