This Month in the Garden (April 2010)...
The white blossoms of Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) are among the wildflowers that grace Port Washington in April. The plants grow in the shade of deciduous woods, frequently on slopes near natural water courses and are native throughout the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada.
Bloodroot blooms before the its leaves unfurl so the blossoms are easy to spot among the leaf litter. Small bees and flies fertilize the flowers and ants help to disperse the seed. Like many other spring bloomers the plants usually go dormant and disappear by mid-summer.
The plant's common name, Bloodroot, comes from its fleshy rhizomes (underground storage stems) which ooze orange-red sap when cut. Native Americans used this sap to produce a color-fast dye they used on both their skin and fabric. Unfortunately, the raw sap can cause severe tissue damage and it's extremely toxic if ingested, even in small amounts.
Bloodroot flowers and leaves, like many other wildflowers, are favorites of deer. The growing numbers of deer and with the spread of European earthworms which consume the leaf duff needed for the germination of many native plant seeds is reducing these plants in the wild.
To see more wildflowers in Port Washington gardens click here.
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Box 492, Port Washington, Wisconsin 53074
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