Bloodroot Flowers, plant associations, and other pleasures.

Last summer I identified bloodroot as the plants were on their way out. They aren’t edible, but do have some medicinal uses. I think that they are another example of how our native woodland plants are amazingly beautiful and full of personality. I have been waiting with great anticipation since last year for my first chance to see them flower in the spring.

I had been checking the area in the woods where they were growing last year. Once the mayapples came up, I knew that it couldn’t be too long before they appeared, and that they would blossom for only a brief time before I would have lost my chance to see the flowers this year.

I have been very busy, and while I had spent some time in the woods, I didn’t make it to that area for almost a week. When I did make it there, I was pleased to see their distinctive leaves already almost fully grown. However, upon closer inspection I noticed that I had already missed their flowering.

Photo of a bloodroot plant.
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) plant, not edible, but useful.

The next day while my son and I were walking in the woods at the park, I noticed two white flowers growing along the side of the path. They were already starting to show some signs of aging, but there they were, two bloodroot plants in full bloom.

Photo of bloodroot flower.
Bloodroot flower.

As a someone interested in growing wild food as well as foraging it, I am trying to learn as much as I can about plant associations. I am starting to figure out some basic woodland plant communities, and excited that many of them are made up almost entirely of edible and or medicinal plants.

The bloodroot plants that are growing right at the edge of our woods grow with mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), Violets (Viola species), Honewort (Cryptotaenia canadensis), and solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum). The bloodroot at the park is growing alongside mayapple, in the middle of a huge colony of some variety of trout lily (Erythronium species).

All of these are not only very useful plants, but I think that they would make a very visually appealing ground story for a forest/forage garden or a meditation/worship garden.

Photo of a bag full of harvested garlic mustard.
Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata).

I have been foraging a lot lately. I should have a post soon about my family’s first meal comprised almost entirely of wild food, but first I just wanted to show how much garlic mustard one person can easily pick in less than forty minutes in a woods that is being overrun by it. The grocery bag is packed tighter than it may look. We have been enjoying eating it, but probably have more than we will use. I have dried some, and am considering experimenting with fermentation.

Photo of serviceberry flowers.
Serviceberry (Amelanchier species) flowers.

Another plant that I have been waiting to see flower for most a the past year is serviceberry. It is also known as juneberry and shadbush. The berries somewhat resemble blueberries, but have their own distinct flavor. This photo is from a neighbor’s shrubs that hang over a wall next to the road. I can’t wait for serviceberry season.

Thanks for reading. Please take the time to discover something beautiful, and if you have kids, take them for a walk in the woods.

Nate

* any pictures or descriptions of plants or information about them is provided for your information and inspiration. I highly recommend foraging, but buy yourself a reliable guide like either of Samuel Thayer’s books from Forager’s Harvest Press.

** I rely heavily on Nature’s Garden and The Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer, and to a lesser extent Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants by Steve Brill, as well as Abundantly Wild by Theresa Marone. All of these books are quite good, however I find Thayer’s work to be the most reliable and detailed.

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