Friday, June 6, 2008

Wild Edibles: Bloodroot

Look carefully at the end of the stem of this bloodroot leaf that Heather is holding. The sap of bloodroot is blood-red in color. Do NOT get this on your skin! It is harmful and can give you a bad rash. This plant has a beautiful flower but it was not blooming during our Wild Edibles walk. The following information is from the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service:
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is a spring-blooming herbaceous perennial found mainly in rich woods throughout the Appalachian Mountain regions and across the Eastern United States. The common name bloodroot and scientific name Sanguinaria denote the blood-red sap found throughout the plant, particularly in the roots. This sap contains the alkaloids that make this plant so valuable. Native Americans used bloodroot as a dye, love charm, and medicine. European colonists adopted Native American medicinal uses to suit their own needs. Bloodroot was described in pharmacopoeias as early as the 1800s, with detailed descriptions of the plant, constituents, therapeutics, and case studies. The popular use of herbal remedies declined in the 1920s with the development of the pharmaceutical industry, though there has been a renewed interest in herbal medicine as research confirms the efficacy of some traditional uses. Bloodroot is still wildcrafted in the United States for domestic and international uses.
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