CALABOGIE HIKER: Bloodroot, Poison (Spring Walk Series)

BLOG 4: Bloodroot, by far, is one of my favourite herbs to find on a Spring herbal walk. Its single ornamental leaf has an uncanny animate life of its own. The stem emerges out of ground with one green bud. The bud opens as a leaf unravelling a little bit to reveal another bud inside - the flower. The flower opens and waits for its leaf 'protector' to grow between 6-10 inches. The leaf unravels wide and wraps its big lobe-like 'arms' around the finicky simple white flower. The flower is finicky because a slight wind or movement near it will cause its petals to drop instantly. No two leaves are the same in a forest scattered with bloodroot. You will be enchanted for a good long hour while looking at all the different leaf designs and animate stages of growth. It is a photographer's dream. While the leaves protect the flower from the wind they look like little monsters warning one to stay away from the fragile flower. Bloodroot (Sanguinaria Candensis} is from the poppy family and has had multiple uses for its root over time, most notably as an expectorant ingredient of cough syrup for asthma, bronchitis and croup and as an arterial sedative for a racing heartbeat. The distinctive orange-red juice from the root is also used as a dye for the body and clothes of First Nations Peoples. Bloodroot is an early spring herb and can be found in rich fertile woods between March and June.

(Eastern Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs, Peterson Field Guide. 2000. pp54./ A Modern Herbal, M. Grieve, 1931. pp115.) (Photo by Colleen Hulett)

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