Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Flowers: Bloodroot

Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot) has started to bloom in Rock Creek Park.  It is one of the first showy flowers of spring.  It emerges and blooms before nearly everything else.  The flowers only last a few days, but since there is little competition from other flowers, that is enough time for insects to pollinate the flowers.  While in bloom, the leaves clasp the stem of the flower.  Both the common and scientific names stem from the bright orange-red color of the sap in its roots.  Native Americans and early American colonists once used the root to produce dye. 

S. canadensis is the only member of its genus in the world.  It is a member of the Poppy Family (Papaveraceae) and its closest living relative is the Eomecon chionantha (snow poppy) in eastern China.  It is found throughout the eastern United States from Nova Scotia to Florida.

Some pictures from yesterday's walk in the park (click to enlarge):
S. canadensis
A cluster of four S. canadensis
Trillium sessile that's not quite ready to bloom.
Some hyacinths in the woods
Two mallards in an area fenced to protect breeding amphibians.  Although we stayed behind the fence, the drake was pretty concerned about our approach.  He turned and watched us intently while the hen continued to feed.
A forsythia bush on the way back.

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