Sanguinaria canadensis

The start of the school year is always a busy time, so apologies for the lack of postings.

While photographing this past April for the Vancouver Trees app we are nearing completion on (oh, so very near), I took a break from woody plants and played with a patch of bloodroot at VanDusen Botanical Garden. The leaves of Maianthemum (canadense?) briefly provided a spotlit background. When rendered out-of-focus through the use of a large aperture, the overall impression to me is of a flower and the Northern Lights.

The eastern and central North American Sanguinaria canadensis has been featured twice previously on BPotD: the cultivar Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex ‘Plena’ (the 14th-ever BPotD entry); and the flowers of the species from above: Sanguinaria canadensis.

Bloodroot, as you might guess, has roots and rhizomes with a reddish juice (scroll down on this page for photos). This liquid contains a number of alkaloids, primarily sanguinarine. While toxic with sufficient doses (one of the symptoms being “tormenting thirst”), bloodroot has a long history in traditional and contemporary medicines. These are detailed in Agriculture and Agri-food Canada’s Medicinal Crops factsheet for the species, with indigenous uses primarily being for the treatment of respiratory or throat and mouth ailments. These uses have continued into contemporary medicines, and sanguinarine can be an ingredient in cough syrups, expectorants and anti-gingivitis rinses & toothpastes.

For cultivation and propagation details, please see the Alpine Garden Society’s site: Sanguinaria canadensis. Gardening details can also be found on the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Gardening Help site: bloodroot.

Sanguinaria canadensis

5 responses to “Sanguinaria canadensis”

  1. Hugh Nourse

    I once used a mouthwash using the ingredients from this plant. It caused lesions in my mouth. It happened to others and the mouthwash was removed from the market.

  2. michael aman

    So ephemeral, so fleeting, graceful harbinger of spring. ‘Plena’ keeps its petals longer but looks short and stubby. Sanguinaria’s leaves also are also fresh and pleasing.

  3. Ray Collier

    That is a lovely use of bokeh! Well done!

  4. Connie Hoge

    One of my favorites!
    Love the way your light and focus distills it’s essence.

  5. james teeft

    There is an awesome large clump of the double flowered form in the woodland gardens at the back of the Niagara Botanical garden school in the Falls. It is stunning in flower in the spring. Plants were rather expensive to purchase ,however the squirrels which destroyed our clump did not seem to care or listen to our loud swearing!!

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