Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bloodroot

Marlene S. told us that wildflowers were blooming at River Bend Nature Area in Faribault.  On 11 April, Erika and I drove over to the west unit of the Cannon River Wilderness Area, just north of Faribault.  The nature trail there is one of our favorite places to find spring ephemerals, April-blooming flowers that take advantage of the sun's being unblocked by forest leaves.

We were immediately greeted by Bloodroot.  This handsome wildflower was our first last year, on 3 April 2010.  You may recall that last year we enjoyed a warm and snowless March.  In all, we counted about a half-dozen flowering species, with more on the way.

The Alternative Nature Online Herbal gives dozens of folk uses for Bloodroot, ranging from a tooth plaque inhibitor, fungicide, diuretic, to anti-wart and anti-ringworm treatment.  Native Americans used Bloodroot as a dye, both on cloth and as war paint.  The herbal warns, IN RED PRINT, " Use internally with caution, it contains toxic opium-like alkaloids and can cause mucous membrane irritation, an over dose can be fatal, do not use when pregnant or lactating. Bloodroot is not edible."

Bloodroot grows in most of eastern North America. Bloodroot should not be transplanted from the wild, as populations in some areas are of threatened status.  Wildflower gardeners should not transpant Bloodroot but obtain them from ethical cultivators. 

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