Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) can form extensive colonies of gleaming white flowers, blooming in woodland glades in early spring. They don’t do that for me, though. I mean, they bloom very nicely, but they don’t form big colonies.


My colony of Bloodroot is a very tiny place, not at all like the original 13 American colonies. Well, maybe Rhode Island, or something like the Duchy of Fenwick from The Mouse That Roared. One reason it is not more extensive may be that I planted a Crabapple close by, which I suspect caused disruption of the Bloodroot patch.


I think of Bloodroot as bashful not only because they are so reluctant to grab new territory. The flowers are very transient: here today, gone tomorrow. And for a long time, the stems clasp the  foliage tight, like a shy person at the beach who won’t put down their towel.


Maybe I just need to be patient with the Bloodroot. Enough time and it will come into its own.


When the leaves finally unfurl they look pretty interesting, heart-shaped and deeply lobed.


Bloodroot is a spring ephemeral, so the leaves fade away over the course of the summer.

When the seeds ripen, they are distributed by ants. In case you’re wondering, Bloodroot gets its name from the red sap found in the roots.


To finish off, here’s a nice picture Judy took at the Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware of Bloodroot with Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum).

Do you grow Bloodroot? And are they bashful in your garden?

36 Comments on “Bashful Bloodroot”

  1. I had a colony of bloodroot at my former garden in MI. It was the double form, kindly gifted to me by a friend, and I treasured it. Each spring I counted the flowers; it increased gradually but when I left the house and garden it was only up to 12 flowers. Still, not bad since I started with just 1. I’ve started again with a single form in my new garden. Bloodroots demand patience I guess.

  2. Your photos are great. I have a couple of friends from places like Massachusetts who post gorgeous, artistic photos of this flower in its natural setting, but I’d never really gotten a sense of what the plant looked like as a whole. I enjoy white flowers generally, and those leaves are great. I laughed at your description of the flower’s shyness, too. Just great.

  3. I had a little patch for years. It disappeared. Not quite sure why. I miss it. Seeing yours makes me want it again. I might try and plant some Trout lilies with it. That is such a pretty picture. I like the idea of it being shy with a towel wrapped around it’s stem. 🙂

  4. I just love little plants like this. They don’t necessarily make a big show, but for those of us who appreciate them (pollinators included!) they are a real gift to the garden. Great shots, I especially like the third from last, with the bloom just peeking out.

  5. Bloodroot is such a pristine little wildflower with its delightful wrap-around leaf. You’re luck to have it!
    On another subject, I’ve had last year’s bulb catalog at hand all spring, making a list of what I need more of and where I’ll be planting it come fall. I’ve been especially conscious of views from inside the house. Maybe everybody does this, but nonetheless I thought I’d share.

  6. When I found mine I was elated! I thought they’d died and gone elsewhere, but me of little faith found the flowers, now to just move all the foliage from the other plants hiding the blood roots’. Definitely a harbinger of spring for me and a connection to a friend that gave them to me for our other house. Sturdy lads these!

  7. I may have mentioned how I got mine~they just turned up! A squirrel had gifted us with two oak trees, and when we stopped mowing in that area and grass faded away, the flowers showed up. I suspect they may have been lurking there for quite some time, waiting for a chance. It was a long time but this year they were abundant and are escaping into the lawn area. I’m afraid to look whether the pioneers got mowed off this weekend…

      • Indeed. And my neighbor yesterday showed me where lupines have sprung up in her garden! It seems there was a healthy woodland near us that she used to walk all the time until one day she found bulldozers lined up. Tragic. So she raced home and grabbed her shovel and a wagon and started digging. When I see what she was able to rescue, I cannot help but mourn what was lost. I’m just glad we moved in a year after all the carnage so we didn’t see it happening.

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