Signs of Spring
While walking through the Meetinghouse woods today, I found Sanguinaria canadensis popping through last fall’s brown leaves; a sure sign of spring I look forward to each year. A member of the poppy family (Papaveraceae), the flowers of bloodroot emerge before the foliage and when fully open are wrapped by a slowing unfurling, palmate, deeply-scalloped basal leaf. Small flying insects pollinate the flowers and later the seeds are distributed by ants. The foliage contributes a wonderful texture to the ground layer of a woodland garden going dormant in mid to late summer.
The common name bloodroot becomes obvious if the below ground rhizomes are broken, revealing a reddish sap. While sometimes locally abundant, this plant is generally rare being found in less disturbed, hilly or mountainous areas of eastern North America. So enjoy this ephemeral treasure of spring on your next walk through the Meetinghouse Woods. We are lucky to have such a gem in an urban area so close to Philadelphia.