Sunday, April 12, 2015

Bloodroot

Today, 12 April 2015, upon our return from a month’s traveling to Texas and Florida, we were greeted by the first Bloodroot of the spring as it bloomed in Erika’s garden. Bloodroot seeds are often propagated by ants, and, thus, like this individual, can appear unexpected places.

Bloodroots are poppies, and like many plants in this family, have colored, sappy liquid in their roots—in this case blood red. They are early bloomers, and are able to do so because of the relatively warm microclimate along the forest floor.  Their main polinators are bees.

Native Americans used bloodroot as a dye and for various medical remedies, including bronchitis, asthma, and sore throats. The sap is reputed to have hallucinogenic properties and contains propotine, also found in the opium poppy. Another name for Bloodroot is Sweet Slumber. Sanguinarine is another alkaloid found in Bloodroots. In the late 1900s, it was used in mouthwash as an antiplaque agent. Sanguinarine was later found to cause a ten-fold increase in mouth cancers, and has since been removed from the market (Gracie 2012).

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