Bloodroot, coonroot, pauson, puccoon, puccoon root, red Indian paint, red puccoon, redroot, snakebite, sweet slumber, tetterwort, turmeric, white puccoon
A perennial that grows to 6 to 14 inches in height, with a solitary leaf-stem. Leaves are palmately lobed around outer edge. In early spring, produces white flowers 1 to 2 inches in width. A distinctive characteristic of this plant is the red juice produced by the root.
April to May.
Deep, cool, moist, deciduous woodland slopes; rich woods.
Rootstock at time of flowering, in late summer or early fall.
Eastern North America
Bloodroot's alkaloid, sanguinarine, is used today in toothpaste and mouthwash. It is an anesthetic, antiseptic, and shown to have some anticancer activity.
This plant is extremely poisonous. It is a source of morphine, and improper use should be avoided. The drug is an emetic, laxative, and emmenagogue; and because of its expectorant qualities, it has been used to treat chronic bronchitis. The plant is used both as a pain reliever and a sedative. When combined with oak bark, the roots give a red dye. In Appalachia, a piece of bloodroot is sometimes carried as a charm to ward off evil spirits.