Don't Let the Name Deter You
It may not have the prettiest name, but bloodroot is a lovely wildflower with delicate white petals surrounding a yellow center. It's one of the earliest perennials to bloom in the spring, producing flowers from March to May. Bloodroot can grow into large colonies, making it a good choice for naturalizing a shade garden or wooded area.
Bloodroot grows 6 to 10 inches tall, with a single bloom per stalk wrapped in a large, deeply scalloped leaf. The flowers open during the day and close up at night. The petals usually fall within a few days of flowering. A double-flowering form is especially prized for its larger flowers, which last longer than single ones.
A Shady Character
A native of eastern North America, bloodroot is found from Quebec to Florida and as far west as Nebraska and Texas. It prefers the kind of environment found under tall trees, with a rich, moist, acid soil and part to full shade. The plants spread by rhizomes or by ants spreading the seeds. Compatible plantings include Jack-in-the-pulpit, mayapples, and trillium. Bloodroot can be planted from seed or from transplants purchased at a nursery or garden center.
What's in a Name?
Bloodroot's name comes from the red juice that is found in the plant, mostly in the rhizomes. Although the juice has been used by Native Americans and others for medicinal purposes, it is considered toxic and should not be ingested.