Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Bloodroot
Sanguinaria canadensis

Family: Papaveraceae (pa-pav-er-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sanguinaria (san-gwin-AR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: canadensis (ka-na-DEN-sis) (Info)

10 vendors have this plant for sale.

70 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


under 6 in. (15 cm)
6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade
Full Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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8 positives
5 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive plant_it On Apr 23, 2012, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

Has anyone seen deer or rabbits eating this plant? One website says deer willl feed on the plants in early spring. Another says, "The foliage and rhizomes contain an acrid reddish juice and are toxic. Consequently, this plant is not often eaten by mammalian herbivores."

Native to eastern North America from Nova Scotia, Canada southward to Florida, United States, and west to Great Lakes and down the Mississippi embayment. Grow in moist to dry woods and thickets, often on flood plains and near shores or streams on slopes. They grow less frequently in clearings and meadows or on dunes, and are rarely found in disturbed sites.

Flowers open up in sun but close at night, and are very short-lived (1-2 days). Leaves continue to grow in size after bloom (sometimes to as much as 9" across) and remain attractive until mid to late summer when the plant goes dormant.

"Bloodroot is one of many plants whose seeds are spread by ants, a process called myrmecochory. The seeds have a fleshy organ called an elaiosome that attracts ants. The ants take the seeds to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes, and put the seeds in their nest debris, where they are protected until they germinate. They also get the added bonus of growing in a medium made richer by the ant nest debris."

Positive woodland_karen On Apr 30, 2011, woodland_karen from Kinston, NC wrote:

Not all sources are from the wild for this plant. We moved into our woodland home a year ago and I first became acquainted with this plant soon after. This year they are doing even better than last, possibly due to more rain and less privet shading everything out.

Although most accounts indicate the mountains for this plant, I am very much in the coastal plain with a large number of these plants. By sharing roots, plants and seeds, I am not "taking" from the wild. There is about as much danger of these becoming scarce on the property as my being able to eradicate the awful privet - and I can assist by helping to repopulate other areas.

Negative mountainman72 On Mar 10, 2011, mountainman72 from Broomfield, CO wrote:

We should not be taking whole plants or "specimens" from the wild! Rather, we should only collect seeds and sow them in the fall or spring. (If a plant reproduces by division and not by seed, then find a source online.) Shame on you for being part of the reason we see less wildflowers every year. That same plant could have continued producing hundreds of seeds for years to come ensuring its survival in its natural habitat. Your plant isn't doing well because it's probably homesick!!!! Ugh.

Neutral CaptMicha On Apr 25, 2009, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

I had transplanted a wild specimen from a spot in my yard to a protected area (to avoid the lawn mower) and although it flowers consistently every year, it propagates ever so slowly. I finally have what looks like two plants this year. This is after about five or so years after transplanting the original one.

It's in an area where it gets dappled light filtered through the trees and the soil is consistently cool, moist and rich. Much like where I found the original plant. I've yet to locate any other wild specimens.

Neutral Ficurinia On Nov 22, 2008, Ficurinia from Portland, OR wrote:

It is not like me to dislike a plant, especially one that is a native and in need of protection and care, but this plant does not work in city gardens even if you do have a rather large back yard. It spread "like wild fire" and was difficult to dig up once settled. The bloody roots were interesting at first, but when we started to dig it up, I discovered how much the plant bothered my skin. This may be an unusual reaction though because I have a poor immune system.

If we had a much larger garden I would probably plant this again though. The leaves and blooms are pretty, just make sure it has lots and lots of space.

Positive stormyla On Nov 22, 2008, stormyla from Norristown, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

These lovely little flowers are such a welcome sight each spring. I find the foliage quite interesting too.

Neutral bluespiral On May 31, 2007, bluespiral from (Zone 7a) wrote:

Last year, a knowledgeable botanist, Dr. James Duke (The Green Pharmacy), who lives nearby, told me that bloodroot is becoming rare in parts of Maryland where it should be thriving instead. The exact cause is unknown.

Additionally, to paraphrase & quote Norman C. Deno (Seed Germination Theory and Practice), even though seed sown in July developed 2" radicles, the seedlings "ultimately" died. Seedlings germinated with other techniques also died.

I am wondering whether there is any link between the above experiences of Drs. Duke and Deno. One thing that comes to mind is that I have read that many native woodland wildflowers are declining in America because of the effect of an invasive species of exotic earthworm on the woodland humus in which they need to germinate and grow. Because this earthworm eats faster than the native earthworm (which it is said to have replaced up to 95+%), humus produced by its digestive tract doesn't build up as much. This is why plants that don't need as much humus to grow in, like barberries, are replacing ferns.

The decline of wildflowers and ferns and increasing replacement of ferns with barberries in local woods has been painful to watch over the 30 years DH and I have been walking around here.

Be that as it may, I was tempted to send some seed from a naturalized colony of bloodroot in our garden to a DG member who had mentioned that she would like some, but now I think - given the above considerations and recent complications and rate increases at the post office* - that instead of sending her seed, I should send her some of the volunteer rhizomes scattered about our garden once they go dormant this summer. It would be a shame for this plant to die out some day - something to think about if you're considering sharing seed, but would like to help reverse increasing disappearances of this woodland wildflower.

PS - On transplanting, like most plants that prefer to be moved during their dormant period, bloodroot is best moved after its leaves die back.

Positive Marilynbeth On Nov 18, 2006, Marilynbeth from Hebron, KY wrote:

Always a welcomed sight to see in Spring!

Positive Malus2006 On Feb 22, 2006, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

This plant actually seems to prefer the areas where they get the most light, while staying in woodland shade. I have a nice sized colony on a upland area that gets morning sun for a few hours in early spring before trees leaves out.

Updated information: They can be rather errantic, seedling themselves in unpreditable locations and entire colonies can just crash after thriving one year for some unknown reason. I have one come up and thrive in a crack between my grandma's house and the patio.

Positive raisedbedbob On Jan 31, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

In consistently moist conditions, Bloodroot will form dense colonies which are beautiful when the plant is in bloom.

Neutral pokerboy On Apr 22, 2005, pokerboy from Canberra
Australia (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is a short, herbaceous perennial grown for it's blossoms in Spring. pokerboy.

Neutral smiln32 On Sep 24, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is the only species of the genus Sanguinaria. This plant is generally somewhat rare. It is known from areas that have been little disturbed usually on hills and mountains. A blood red juice can be extracted from the reddish orange root, actually a rhizome, hence the name Bloodroot. It has been used medicinally in the past, although it can be so toxic (even in small doses) that the FDA warns against using it as an herbal healer. It has also been used as a fabric dye.

Positive Tiarella On Mar 18, 2004, Tiarella from Tunnel Hill, GA (Zone 7a) wrote:

The buds of bloodroot can be purple, yellow, white, or many shades of pink though all open to white flowers.

Bloodroot is a carefree plant that multiplies in size quickly and provides a nice carpet of white flowers in early spring. Blooms at the same time as toothwort, hepatica, wood poppies, and common purple yard violets. Can be planted around ferns (or hosta) with Virginia Bluebells to provide early season interest before the ferns (hosta) break ground.

Positive lupinelover On Aug 5, 2002, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

This plant is native to eastern North America in woodlands. It is an herb, used for dyes. Use caution when disturbing the plant; it exudes an orange-red sap that is very long-lasting and difficult to remove from skin and clothing. Leaves of the wild species vary considerably in shape, color and diameter.

The flowers appear on short (2-3") stems in late winter/early spring and are very short-lived; they are very attractive to the few butterflies which are present at that time. Petals only open on sunny days, which helps preserve them a little longer: each flower usually only lasts 2-3 days. The leaf is present on the stalk under the flower as it opens, as the leaf unfolds the stalk elongates to 12-15" tall.

The seedpods ripen slowly, and when seeds are ripe splits to scatter the seed, which are attractive to ants who disseminate them; pods should be bagged to prevent seedloss.
This wildflower is protected in some states; check before gathering wild seeds.

Seeds very quickly lose viability and should be sown immediately after collecting. Plants may take 2-3 years before flowering size is attained; plants may take 2-3 years to re-establish after transplanting if roots are much disturbed.

Lack of moisture in the summer will cause them to prematurely retreat to dormancy, and may reduce next year's flowering. A very beautiful and desireable wildflower.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Gadsden, Alabama
Pelham, Alabama
Seale, Alabama
Mena, Arkansas
Baywood-los Osos, California
Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut
Harwinton, Connecticut
Jacksonville, Florida
Miccosukee Cpo, Florida
Cordele, Georgia
Decatur, Georgia
Tunnel Hill, Georgia
Galena, Illinois
Machesney Park, Illinois
Urbana, Illinois
Washington, Illinois
Indianapolis, Indiana
Valparaiso, Indiana
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
Ewing, Kentucky
Hebron, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Mc Dowell, Kentucky
Melbourne, Kentucky
Brookeville, Maryland
Cumberland, Maryland
Ellicott City, Maryland
Valley Lee, Maryland
Belchertown, Massachusetts
Dracut, Massachusetts
Foxboro, Massachusetts
Hinsdale, Massachusetts
Mashpee, Massachusetts
Wayland, Massachusetts
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Midland, Michigan
Novi, Michigan
Pinconning, Michigan
University Center, Michigan
Blue Earth, Minnesota
Cambridge, Minnesota
Isle, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota (2 reports)
New Prague, Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Marietta, Mississippi
Cole Camp, Missouri
Holden, Missouri
Piedmont, Missouri
Saint Louis, Missouri (2 reports)
Sedalia, Missouri
Litchfield, New Hampshire
Baldwinsville, New York
Brooklyn, New York
Buffalo, New York
Holmes, New York
Nineveh, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Greenville, North Carolina
Kinston, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Weaverville, North Carolina
Cleveland, Ohio
Grove City, Ohio
Newark, Ohio
Youngstown, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Coopersburg, Pennsylvania
Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
Mercer, Pennsylvania
Newtown Square, Pennsylvania
Norristown, Pennsylvania
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Greenville, South Carolina
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Dickson, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
Arlington, Virginia
Blacksburg, Virginia
Harrisonburg, Virginia
Honaker, Virginia
Leesburg, Virginia
Lexington, Virginia
Roanoke, Virginia
Port Townsend, Washington
Pullman, Washington
Vancouver, Washington
Welch, West Virginia
Belmont, Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin
Onalaska, Wisconsin

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