Sanguinaria canadensis, commonly called bloodroot, is a stemless, rhizomatous, native wildflower which blooms in early spring in rich woods and along streams throughout the State. Typically rises 6-10" tall and spreads over time in the wild to form large colonies on the forest floor. Each flower stalk typically emerges in spring wrapped by one palmate, deeply-scalloped, grayish-green, basal leaf. As the flower blooms, the leaf unfurls. Each flower stalk produces a solitary, 2" wide, 8-10 petaled, 1.5" diameter, white flower with numerous yellow center stamens. Flowers open up in sun but close at night, and are very short-lived (1-2 days). Leaves continue to grow in size after bloom (sometimes to as much as 9" across) and remain attractive until mid to late summer when the plant goes dormant. All parts of the plant exude a bright reddish-orange sap when cut, hence the common name. Sap was once used by Native Americans for dyes. Rootstock is caustic and poisonous if ingested, but has been used medicinally for its antiseptic and emetic properties.
Best grown in moist, humusy, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Garden Uses. Best massed in shaded areas of woodland, wildflower, native plant or rock gardens where plants can be left alone and allowed to naturalize. Sometimes included in herb gardens because of medicinal properties. Hardy in zones 3-8.
Sowing: To break their dormancy, these seeds need to experience cold and warm moist periods followed by another period of cold moisture. Mix the seeds with a small amount of damp sand and place in a sealed plastic bag; store in a refrigerator for 30 days, then at 70-75 degrees F for 30 days, with a final period of 30 days in the refrigerator. Sow the seed 1/2" deep in a germination flat, keeping the soil lightly moist and at room temperature until germination. Alternatively, this seed can be direct sowed outdoors in late fall and allowed up to two years to germinate.
Growing: Water seedlings regularly until they become established. This plant grows best in moist, rich soil and may need occasional watering in dry weather. Mature plants can be divided, growing easily from rhizome divisions.