Legend of the Moon-eyed People
Appalachian Vocabulary Test 98

The Bloodroot is Blooming

Bloodroot growing in western nc mountains

Bloodroot is a common spring wildflower found in the Southern Highlands of Appalachia. The flowers typically grow no higher than 6 to 7 inches high.

Wild bloodroot

The white bloom stands out against the starkness of early spring.

I fell in love with bloodroot shortly after The Deer Hunter and I were married. After all these years, I still have a hard time deciding if I like the blooms better or the green lobed leaves that grow bigger and bigger after the blooms are gone.

The wild plant progresses in an amazing way.

In the beginning you see little white heads poking their way through the ground. Seemingly overnight the flowers open wide with their cheery faces looking towards the heat of the sun with their leaves hugged up close to keep them warm from the cold spring wind.

Harbingers of spring in appalachia

The pretty blooms don't last long. One day they're there-the next it's like a small creature came along and picked each white petal off, leaving only the pointy stamen behind to show where the flower grew.

The lobed leaves grow larger and larger after the blooms fall away, but by mid summer there isn't a trace of Bloodroot left. The entire plant dies back to sleep till next year's spring awakens it again.

Bloodroot for dye and medicine

Bloodroot gets it's name from the red liquid found in it's roots and stems. In days gone by the plant was used in medicinal remedies. 

I look forward to the beauty of bloodroot every year. I marvel as it's petals fall off and it's leaves open wide in welcome of spring of the year.

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Bloodroot is one of my special favorites, too. Not only the sweet flowers, but those unlikely-looking leaves...bloodroot reminds me of something in a fairytale more than real life. When I had the goat barn built, the builder dragged a skidder blade right through my patch of columbine and bloodroot and it made me want to cry - it still does! - those plants had been blooming and growing there longer than I've been here. Last year I found a few bloodroot popping up in a different area I've been slowly working to reclaim and plant with perennial flowers, and I was thrilled to bits to see my old friend again. Hope there will be more this year - but right now, we're under new snow.

THANKS TIPPER: I saw my Blood Root in bloom and DID NOT give attention to it's beauty yesterday - as I was doing some serious gardening! When the Sun rises today I will take time to enjoy my beautiful blooms - before they fall away. GREAT POST! Eva Nell

Had to go to the doctor today...after coming back home, we walked around a bit and checked our old orchard tree...there was our first Morel mushroom of the season...Supposed to rain tonight and stay fairly warm...I hope more pop up because you can't pick just one...HA
Thanks Tipper,

You continue to impress me with your knowledge of natural things found in the Mountains. The green leaves of Bloodroot look kinda like an oak leaf to me, especially when the white flower is gone. This is one of the reasons we enjoy the Blind Pig and the Acorn so much. Another is the Family Music you share. ...Ken

Beautiful! I've always wished we had that around my parts (pacific northwest). It's a great addition to the herbal medicinal chest.

Shirl, I'm like you , I didn't pay enough attention. Dad told me what they used blood root for and I don't remember. I do remember he said not to use it in large amounts because it contained a poison.

I love Blood Root! I look forward to seeing them every Spring. Like you I fell in love with the plant years ago after we bought our home. We found them when walking on the lower, damper edge of the old stagecoach road. I always meant to make dye from the root for my art work like the Indians made for staining baskets, etc. But, I tell you the truth, I hate to dig up the roots, I cherish the flowers more than the dye! Ha
We have varied conditions for wild flowers from high ridge, dry woodland to a lower wet weather spring that drips and falls down the back side of our property. I loved walking down near the creek/wet weather spring to see early Spring flowers, ferns etc. I then would hike up the old stagecoach road checking out the shady banks and on to the top where I found Laurel, Pinxter, wild blueberries, trailing Arbutus, Birds Foot Violets, etc.. On the North side of the curvy road we would find Trillium, Giant Solomon's Seal, Bee Balm, yellow and white violets and Jack in the Pulpits...In the dry woodland we find Wild Ginger, Little Brown Jug, low ferns, etc. More wildflowers than I can put of this comment. I just can't walk like I used too with this doggone rollator I have to push!...People walk while you can, hike while you can. Those old arthritic hips and age will or may find you one day!
We have been checking our secret hiding place for the Morel mushrooms, but they haven't shown up this year...We may have a bad year, due to last years drought. I hope not! I am craving some dry land oysters!
Thanks Tipper, I loved this post!

So lovely! I have never seen this flower. I was able to drag your photo off onto my computer desktop, Tipper, so now I have bloodroot the year round!

I've seen the plant but don't remember the blooms. I don't remember seeing either one here where I live now but then again I ain't been looking for it neither.

Beautiful picture! About 30 years ago I took pictures of most of the wild flowers in E.KY. and some pictures were taken in the mountains of NC> and SC, I had a house fire a few years back and lost my cameras and pictures.

I like hunting the spring wildflowers like bloodroot, wild ginger, big chickweed, wild iris. etc. Where I grew up there were hepatica (liver-leaf) with shades of pastel blue, pink and white. There is also one called harbinger-of-spring that blooms white and is earliest of all. It shows so little green that it is easily missed.

Anyone ever make dye with bloodroot?

I've been checking for mine everyday. Think I'll take a walk again this morning.

Mom used Bloodroot for something, but I'm not sure what it was. It could have been medicinal, food or dye. Like so many other things, I wish I had paid more attention. Maybe The Dictionary of Smokey Mountain English will refresh my memory.

Pearl Cable called bloodroot "red root".

It was the flower Daddy most associated with his home place on Juneywhank Branch, likely because there were patches of it just above the spring.

A feature of bloodroot as well as a number of other early-blooming plants is that even after going wide open during the day, their petals close up at night, providing protection against the cold for the stigma and pistil.

It certainly is a pretty plant!

I regret growing up and not spending more time learning about all the wonderful wild plants that grow in the mountains. My parents and grandparents had a vast knowledge, and I never took the opportunity to tap into their knowledge. Thank you for sharing with us. We learn daily from you.

Lowgrowing plants make those yards full of grass look beautiful. Bloodroot has a beautiful flower

Tip, I had blood root at my house in Black Mountain but I don't recall seeing my here at my new home. I do, however, have several blooming ground huggers in my yard here at present. I don't know their names yet. One has a purple bloom that grows tiny blooms up a short stalk. There are currently two more growing/blooming one has a purple bloom the other is yellow.
I think of them as shy little things, never going far from home!

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