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Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot)
Sherman, Doug

Sanguinaria canadensis

Sanguinaria canadensis L.


Papaveraceae (Poppy Family)

Synonym(s): Sanguinaria canadensis var. rotundifolia

USDA Symbol: saca13

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

The single bloodroot leaf and flower each rise on a separate stem, and at first the leaf completely enwraps the flower bud. The clear, white, many-petaled blossom may open before the leaf has completely unwrapped, rising slightly above the leaf to a height of 6-10 in. Leaves, which are large, round and deeply cleft, eventually reach a height of 12-24 in. On a smooth stalk a solitary white flower, with a golden-orange center, grows beside a lobed basal leaf that often curls around the stalk. Roots and stem with acrid red-orange juice.

This fragile spring flower develops and rises from the center of its curled leaf, opening in full sun, and closing at night. Like most members of the Poppy Family, it lasts for a relatively short time. The red juice from the underground stem was used by Native Americans as a dye for baskets, clothing, and war paint, as well as for insect repellent. The generic name, from the Latin sanguinarius, means "bleeding."


From the Image Gallery

77 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 2 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: MB , NB , NS , ON , QC
Native Distribution: E. Que. to Man., s. to FL, AL & TX
Native Habitat: Rich, deciduous, upland & floodplain woods

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Soil Description: Moist to mesic, well-drained, humus-rich soils.
Conditions Comments: Bloodroots spread rapidly and make an excellent ground cover. Mulch the plants with a thin layer of deciduous leaves during the winter. Effective as groundcover around the base of trees, seeds dispersed by ants.


Use Other: The red juice from the underground stem was used by Native Americans as a dye for baskets, clothing, and war paint, as well as for insect repellent. (Niering)
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: Rhizome (thickened roots). May be fatal if ingested! Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, faintness, dizziness, dilated pupils, fainting, diarrhea, heart failure. Toxic Principle: Isoquinoline alkaloids.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes


Description: The most reliable method of propagation is by seed. Plant seeds immediately after collection as they must not be allowed to dry out. Propagate by rhizome division in either fall or early spring. (Wear gloves and wash your hands after handling the roots
Seed Collection: Approximate collection date in northern U.S.: Early to mid-Jun. Seeds ripen apporximately four weeks after the plant has flowered. Storage must be brief and the seeds must not be allowed to dry out.
Commercially Avail: yes

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Alternative names for Aquilegia Sanguinaria
May 03, 2006
I am looking for the common name for a flower called Aquilegia Sanguinaria. Can you help? Does this even exist?
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Pineywoods Native Plant Center - Nacogdoches, TX
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1994 VOL. 11, NO.6 - Wildflower Center Featured Non-Profit in Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, Dana Leav...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Sanguinaria canadensis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Sanguinaria canadensis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Sanguinaria canadensis


Record Modified: 2023-02-24
Research By: TWC Staff

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