Bloodroot Uses and Interesting Facts

Bloodroot Uses and Interesting Facts

bloodroot in Minnesota

Bloodroot Facts

  • Bloodroot is a member of the Poppy family (Papaveraceae)
  • This is often one of the first wildflowers to bloom in the spring, and are also one of the largest early flowers at 1.5 – 2 inches
  • The flowers only bloom for a day or two
  • Bloodroot flowers do not have nectar
  • The seeds of the plant contain an elaiosome, which is a fleshy organ that attracts ants. The ants carry the seeds to their nest and eat the elaiosomes. The seeds remain in the nest debris, which usually makes an excellent growing medium. The process of the seeds of plants being spread by ants is called myrmecochory.

Uses of Bloodroot Plants

  • The reddish sap of the plant can be used as a natural dye. Native Americans used is as a dye for baskets, clothing, and war paint.
  • Native Americans also used the sap from the rhizomes as insect repellant.
  • Sanguinarine, a toxic extract from bloodroot, kills animal cells. Many published pre-clinical In Vitro and In Vivo studies recommend development of Sanguinarine as a potential treatment for cancer.
  • Bloodroot was traditionally used by many Native Americans to treat fever and rheumatism. Is is, however, poisonous and is not recommended to be taken internally. An overdose of bloodroot extract can cause vomiting and loss of consciousness. Contact poison control if accidentally ingested (1-800-222-1222)
  • It has been used commercially in toothpaste and mouthwash to fight plaque (please, do not try this on your own with bloodroot extract).
  • Bloodroot extract is being studied as a dissolving agent for warts, and is currently used in the mole remover Dermatend. However, do not attempt to use bloodroot extract on your own for this purpose; it could disfigure your skin and the underlying tissue, as well as cause pain.
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