Wild Flowers of Pittsburgh

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

These cheery little flowers pop up at about the same time as the Coltsfoots; this plant was a late-bloomer in mid-April, when most of its neighbors had already finished blooming, beside a back road in Fox Chapel. The flowers open before the leaves are fully unfurled, so each flower stem is elegantly wrapped in a shell-like green leaf. The English and Latin names both come from the fact that the root is full of red juice.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

SANGUINARIA [Dill.] L. BLOODROOT. Sepals 2. Petals 8-12, spatulate-oblong. Stamens about 24. Style short; stigma 2-grooved. Pod ellipsoid or fusiform, turgid, 1-celled, 2-valved. Seeds with a large crest. — Low perennial; its thick prostrate rootstocks (surcharged with red-orange acrid juice) sending up in earliest spring a palmate-lobed leaf and 1-flowered scape. Flower white, handsome, the bud erect, the petals not crumpled. (Name from the color of the juice.)

S. canadensis L. — Open rich woods; common. Apr., May.

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