What: Blood Root or Blood Wart is a perennial, flowering plant native to North America. As its name suggests, the Blood root stores an orange/red colored sap (rhizome) that grows underneath the soil. The flower is pollinated by bees and flies, blooming from the March to May. The seeds of the Blood Root are black or dark red/orange in color. The leaves of the blood root remind me of the shape of a human brain, curving in and out with wrinkles. I was really curious to see if the "blood root" actually resembled blood so I uprooted one. The root oozed a red sap the same color as blood and it literally looked like a cut from scraping your knee! Who would have ever thought a beautiful white flowering plant, would have a blood like root?
Ecological notes: The best place to find Blood Root is in moist to dry woods. I found blood root in pretty rich soil, that was fairly moist. The Blood Roots seeds are spread by ants in a process called myrmecochory. The seeds have a "flesh like" organ which helps to attract the ants.
Medicinal uses: Blood root has been historically used by Native Americans as an emetic (induces vomiting) and a respiratory aid. Blood root has also been used as a mole and wart removal. The medicinal properties of the plant should be used with extreme caution.
The red and orange sap has also been traditionally used as a red dye for Native American artists.