Bloodroot has brilliantly white flowers that rise above large, deeply lobed leaves. It blooms in the early to mid-spring and goes dormant by midsummer. Bloodroot is best suited for a naturalized woodland, but it can be planted in native gardens and raised bed plantings. This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region and current research.
Size and method of spreading:
The mature size of bloodroot is between 6 to 9 inches tall and 3 to 6 inches wide. The plants generally grow together in groups, giving the appearance of being bigger. It spreads by underground root structures (rhizomes) and ants disperse the seeds.
Native geographic location and habitat: (include C-value if appropriate)
Bloodroot is native to the Eastern and Central United States. C Value: 5.
Attracts birds or pollinators:
Bloodroot is pollinated by bees and beetles. Ants also aid in the distribution of bloodroot seeds.
Each individual bloodroot plant consists of one leaf and one flower that grow on their own stalks that emerge from the soil. When bloodroot leaves first appear, they are wrapped around the flower bud or stalk. Before they begin to unfurl, the backs of the leaves will be green or tinged purple with prominent veins that spread from the point where they attach to the stem (palmate venation). The tops of the leaves are medium green. Bloodroot leaves have a whitish, waxy coating that covers their surfaces (glaucous). After the flowers open, the leaves will begin to unfurl. They are approximately 3 to 5 inches in diameter. The shape of the leaves includes a deep indent where the stem connects, and leaves can vary from deeply lobed to more rounded with shallow lobes.
Early in the spring, bloodroot produces flowers with eight to 16 bright white petals on a long stalk that emerges from the ground. The stalk can be reddish or green. The flowers are between 1 ½ to 3 inches in diameter. As the flowers emerge, they will be encased by two light green structures (sepals) that will fall off as the flower opens. In the center of the flowers, numerous yellow structures (stamen) surround a large green ovary topped by a divided structure (stigma). As the petals age, they become more translucent.
Bloodroot grows fruit that is long, ellipsoidal, and opens at maturity (capsules). The fruit is light green and approximately 1 inch long. When the capsules open, they often look as though the top has been ripped off, or they can open vertically, like a zipper. Each bloodroot capsule contains 10 to 15 seeds.
Bloodroot is most susceptible to fungal issues when they are overcrowded or lack proper air circulation. Overly wet soils can also lead to issues. Bloodroot prefers soils that are high in organic matter. It is recommended to wear gloves when handling bloodroot, as the sap in the root can be irritating to the skin. If necessary, bloodroot can be divided in the fall or early spring.
List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:
Bloodroot is susceptible to issues with leaf blight, botrytis, and Pythium. Pests of bloodroot include slugs, aphids, and deer.