Sanguinaria canadensis - Indian Paint. Tetterwort. Red Pucoon. Red Root. Paucon. Coon Root. Snakebite. Sweet Slumber.


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A welcome early flower to the brown and grey leaf-littered forest.

Poppy Family (Papaveraceae)

A perennial native with a solitary white flower with golden stamens around a solitary pistil on a smooth stalk. 5-10 inches tall, this early plant has a reddish-orange juice down to the root (hence the name). The large blue/grey to green basal leaf is palmately scalloped into 5-9 lobes.

March to May

Rich, moist woodlands. Frequently near streams and frequently around others flowering at the same time. I haven't seen understory fields of this beautiful plant, but groups up and down streams, but not directly on the banks, just nearby.


Part of the poppy family. It is fragile and probably because the weather is still a bit nippy in March, the leaf opens to the sun (There's usually no tree-leaves at this time, so it's good) and curls itself up at night.

This flower usually lasts only a short while. It is an indicator species to the Birch-Maple-Basswood hardwood forests of North America. It makes its way into NC only in the mountains. Its flower is not insect-specific (such as turtleheads) probably because the insect activity is low so early in the year. You'll see a groggy bumblebee or two visiting if you wait long enough.

When first coming up, the plant doesn't even unfurl it's main leaf until that flower is well on its way or it warms up enough. Generally, if you see two very close together like the photo at right, both flowers are sprouting from the one long horizontal root. After the flower is done, the petals drop and the leaf spreads out, gets even greener and begins to show heavier veining.

The rootstock is a round and fleshy affair, thick and slightly curved at ends which contains an orange-red juice. It is from 1 to 4 inches long, with orange-red rootlets. When dried it breaks easily. It is bitter to the taste and long-lasting (which may account for its expectorant-action) and as very little smell. The powdered root may cause sneezing and irritation of the nose. The root is generally collected in the autumn, after leaves die down. Because it doesn't last long, it should be stored in a cool, dry place.

That leaf hugs the flower like i want to do when i see this early-bloomer.

The known ingredients of the root are the alkaloids Sanguinarine, Chelerythrine, Protopine and B. homochelidonine. Protopine, which is also found in opium, is one of the most widely diffused of the opium alkaloids. The rhizome also contains red resin and an abundance of starch.

The root (or juice) of bloodroot is considered toxic, and this is a poison, kiddies. Overdose symptoms include burning in the stomach, intense thirst, vomiting, faintness, vertigo, intense prostration with dimness of eyesight. However the native Americans had many uses for this plant, though i suspect in minute doses and in conjunction with other herbs. The ailments it helped with was rheumatism, asthmas, bronchitis, lung ailments laryngitis and fevers. Used as an emetic. It was also reportedly used as a skin-dye by them. Used commercially as a plaque-inhibiting agent in toothpaste, mouthwashes and rinses.

Somewhere i read that the juice applied to warts will remove them. With bright blood-red warts, i'm sure you'll want them removed!

Additionally, the root has long been used by the native Americans as a dye for their bodies and clothes and has been used successfully by American and French dyers.



Bloodroot along the BRP can be found around milemarker 294.


Medical uses can be found at the Modern Herbal.

NC Natural has more information and another photo of Bloodroot.

Wildflowers of Scott County has another photo.

Of course, Stein's Herbarium would have a picture of this pretty flower.

The Alternative Nature homepage has a good photo without the flower and some medicinal uses. has some more information on this plant.