Bloodroot’s name describes it perfectly, except that it’s a rhizome and not a root that produces the tell-tale blood-red juice.   It was used medicinally in the past, but is considered much too strong for the home herbalist to use as medicine.  It’s main use is as a dye – for fabric and gourds.

Though Bloodroot is not recommended for medicinal use internally, research is being done on one of it’s constituents – sanguinarine:

 it is showing results as an anesthetic, antibacterial, anti-cholinesterase, anti-edemic, anti-gingivitic, anti-inflammatory, anti-neoplastic, antioxidant, anti-periodontic, anti-plaque, antiseptic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, fungicide, gastrocontractant, hypertensive, pesticide, respiratory stimulant     from altnature.com

Bloodroot is a fascinating plant.  A single leaf is wrapped around a single flower with a red stem.  The flower emerges above the leaf and they both unfold at the same time with the leaf surrounding the flower.  It’s a beautiful spring dance!

This photo shows Bloodroot just starting to pop up from the leaf litter in the woods.  (There’s a bit of Cleavers coming up in the lower right section.)  On a couple of them you can see the detail of the leaf surrounding a soon-to-be daisy-like white flower.

Young, delicate Bloodroot buds emerging in spring

Young, delicate Bloodroot buds emerging in spring

This photo of a drawing shows the “dance” mentioned above and the way the rhizome grows underground:

from Reader's Digest - Magic and Medicine of Plants

from Reader’s Digest – Magic and Medicine of Plants

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