Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) blossoms usually appear mid-April in the York Regional Forest, but this year it was more like early May. I spotted them in another part of the forest a week ago...but didn't have my camera with me. What WAS I thinking when I left the house? The flowers last only a short while, so I was afraid I'd missed them for this year. But ha! I later discovered bloodroot blooming in another part of the forest and this time I had my camera.

Although the flowers don't last long, the plant's attractive deep-green leaves persist and make a handsome low groundcover throughout summer.
Here you can see a bud about to open. The rounded, deeply lobed leaf has unfolded to reveal a single pure white flower.
You're not supposed to pick wildflowers in this forest. If you pick one of these, you might be found out because your hand will be stained by the stem's reddish juice. Apparently young men of the Ponca First Nations tribe noticed how the juice dyed their hands and used it as a love charm.

OK, guys, this is how it works: rub the juice on your palm then shake hands with the maiden you desire to marry. If the charm works, in five or six days she’ll agree.

I've never had the love charm tried on me, but I have used the juice from the roots to dye wool. (Years ago, and not from plants in this forest.) The juice makes a colour-fast dye that turns wool a lovely orange.


Small City Scenes said...

Another beautiful woodland plant. They are not native here but can be bought in specialized nurserys. Everything is late here also because of the cold Spring. MB

dot said...

Nice little story to go with your beautiful flower. It reminds me of a southern magnolia bloom.

Shammickite said...

Your wildflower pictures are lovely. And it may surprise some people that all these delicate little blossoms have a name. So many people just categorise them all as "WEEDS".

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East Gwillimbury is a rural town less than an hour north of Toronto, Canada's largest city. My family calls me CameraGirl because I take my camera with me wherever I go.