(Sanguinaria Canadensis) Poppy family

Flowers - Pure white, rarely pinkish, golden centered, 1 to 1 1/2

in. across, solitary, at end of a smooth naked scape 6 to 14 in.

tall. Calyx of 2 short-lived sepals; corolla of 8 to 12 oblong

petals, early falling; stamens numerous; 1 short pistil composed

of 2 carpels. Leaves: Rounded, deeply and palmately lobed, the 5

to 9 lobes often cleft. Rootstock: Thick, several inches long,

with fibrous roots, and filled with orange-red juice.

Preferred habitat - Rich woods and borders; low hillsides.

Flowering Season - April-May.

Distribution - Nova Scotia to Florida, westward to Nebraska.

Snugly protected in a papery sheath enfolding a silvery-green

leaf-cloak, the solitary erect bud slowly rises from its embrace,

sheds its sepals, expands into an immaculate golden-centered

blossom that, poppy-like, offers but a glimpse of its fleeting

loveliness ere it drops its snow-white petals and is gone. But

were the flowers less ephemeral, were we always certain of

hitting upon the very time its colonies are starring the

woodland, would it have so great a charm? Here to-day, if there

comes a sudden burst of warm sunshine; gone tomorrow, if the

spring winds, rushing through the nearly leafless woods, are too

rude to the fragile petals - no blossom has a more evanescent

beauty, none is more lovely. After its charms have been

displayed, up rises the circular leaf-cloak on its smooth reddish

petiole, unrolls, and at length overtops the narrow, oblong

seed-vessel. Wound the plant in any part, and there flows an

orange-red juice, which old-fashioned mothers used to drop on

lumps of sugar and administer when their children had coughs and

colds. As this fluid stains whatever it touches - hence its value

to the Indians as a war-paint - one should be careful in picking

the flower. It has no value for cutting, of course; but in some

rich, shady corner of the garden, a clump of the plants will

thrive and bring a suggestive picture of the spring woods to our

very doors. It will be noticed that plants having thick

rootstocks, corms, and bulbs, which store up food during the

winter, like the irises, Solomon's seals, bloodroot, adder's

tongue, and crocuses, are prepared to rush into blossom far

earlier in spring than fibrous-rooted species that must

accumulate nourishment after the season has opened.

A newly opened flower which is in the female stage has its

anthers tightly closed, and pollen must therefore be carried from

distinct plants by the short-tongued bees and flies out

collecting it. No nectar rewards their search, although they

alight on young blossoms in the expectation of finding some food,

and so cross-fertilize them. Late in the afternoon the petals,

which have been in a showy horizontal position during the day,

rise to the perpendicular before closing to protect the flower's

precious contents for the morrow's visitors. In the blossom's

staminate stage, abundant pollen is collected by the hive bees

chiefly; but, those of the Halictus tribe, the mining bees and

the Syrphidae flies also pay profitable visits. Inasmuch as the

hive bee is a naturalized foreigner, not a native, the bloodroot

probably depended upon the other little bees to fertilize it

before her arrival. For ages this bee's small relatives and the

flowers they depended upon developed side by side, adapting

themselves to each other's wants. Now along comes an immigrant

and profits by their centuries of effort.

BLACKBERRY LILY BLUE VERVAIN WILD HYSSOP SIMPLER'S JOY facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail