The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Bloodroot - Sanguinaria Canadensis

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1983-2012

Issue: April, 1983

A surer sign of spring than the robin in these parts is the appearance of the bloodroot flower. In April you can find these flowers in woods and along roadsides.

Bloodroot is a small plant, about eight inches high, with one white flower and one five to nine lobed leaf per plant, with the flower appearing from an open space at the base of the leaf.

The easiest way to identify this plant is to break a stem. The sap of the plant is orange red (giving the plant its name.)

The root of the plant has a place in folk medicine as a cure for poison oak. You can either rub the sap from a freshly broken root on the affected area or make a tinture by soaking several cut roots in alcohol. Be sure the use is only external, never take internally.

Once you start looking for them, you will spot them everywhere.