Bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis) is the second native plant to flower along our roadside in the spring – and my personal favourite. It has 8 to 12 delicate white petals and yellow stamens. If you break the flower stalk or cut into the rhizome you will see a very bright orange liquid seeping out. Hence the name.
There’s something otherworldly about these first appearances of native plants in what is for the most part still a barren landscape. I can’t help but imagine what a gift these first flowering plants were to our ancestors who struggled through a long winter and were looking for remedies for the vitamin deficiencies and other ills that befell them during the winter months.
The rootstock of bloodroot is caustic and poisonous but has been used medicinally for its antiseptic and emetic (causing vomiting) properties. People found a way to use these first flowering plants in safe ways but I can only imagine the trial and error that went into making these discoveries. On a safer note, the bright orange liquid that is so startling when first seen was discovered to be a great natural dye and was used by basketmakers.
The wheel of the season continues to turn and with it my attention turns to some of the first edible wild plants that can be foraged in this area. Stay tuned.