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Sanguinaria canadensis - L.                
Common Name Blood Root, Red Puccoon, Bloodroot
Family Papaveraceae
Known Hazards This species contains many alkaloids and is poisonous in large doses[4, 21, 46, 165]. This herb should not be used by women when they are pregnant or lactating[165]. The sap, fresh or dried, can cause intense irritation to the mucous membranes[169].
Habitats Rich soils in open broad-leaved woodland and on shaded slopes[21, 43, 165, 187].
Range Eastern N. America - Nova Scotia to Arkansas and N. Florida, west to Nebraska.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early spring. Form: Spreading or horizontal.

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Sanguinaria canadensis is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.3 m (1ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. It is in leaf 8-Mar It is in flower in April. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)

USDA hardiness zone : 4-9

Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Sanguinaria canadensis Blood Root,  Red Puccoon, Bloodroot
Sanguinaria canadensis Blood Root,  Red Puccoon, Bloodroot
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;
Edible Uses                                         
None known
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Cathartic;  Diuretic;  Emetic;  Emmenagogue;  Expectorant;  Febrifuge;  Homeopathy;  Odontalgic;  Sedative;  Stimulant;  Tonic.

Blood root was a traditional remedy of the native North American Indians who used it to treat fevers and rheumatism, to induce vomiting and as an element in divination[254]. In modern herbalism it is chiefly employed as an expectorant, promoting coughing and the clearing of mucus from the respiratory tract[254]. The root is locally anaesthetic, cathartic, emetic, emmenagogue, expectorant, diuretic, febrifuge, sedative, stimulant, tonic[4, 21, 46, 165]. It is taken internally in the treatment of bronchial, respiratory tract and throat infections, and poor peripheral circulation[238]. Use with caution and preferably only under the guidance of a qualified practitioner[238]. The root is toxic[21, 165, 222], containing a number of opium-like alkaloids that are also found in other members of this family[213, 238]. An excessive dose depresses the central nervous system, causes nausea and vomiting, and may prove fatal[238]. This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant or lactating women[238]. Externally, the root is used in the treatment of skin diseases, warts, nasal polyps, benign skin tumours, sore throats and chilblains[238]. An infusion of the root or the sap of the fresh root is used[207]. The root can be harvested in the autumn, dried and stored for later use. It should not be allowed to become damp since it will then deteriorate[4, 213]. Sanguinarine, which is obtained from the root, is used as a dental plaque inhibitor[238]. The root is used to make a homeopathic remedy that is used to treat migraine[238]. The US FDA has approved the inclusion of one of the active constituents, sanguinarine, in toothpaste as an antibacterial and antiplaque agent [301].
Other Uses
Dye;  Repellent.

A red dye is obtained from the sap of the root[4, 46, 61, 95, 257]. It was used as a face paint by the North American Indians[200, 213]. Caution is advised, see notes on toxicity[169]. The crushed root has been applied to the body as an insect repellent[213]. Caution is advised, see notes on toxicity[169].
Cultivation details                                         
Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Ground cover, Rock garden, Specimen, Woodland garden. Prefers a sandy soil but it is not fussy so long as the ground is not water-logged[1]. Requires a leafy soil in a cool position in the shade of deciduous trees[111, 187]. Thrives in sun or shade according to another report[1]. Plants grow freely in Britain if they are given a suitable site, and have even succeeded in an open position in a dry gravelly soil[4]. Tolerates a pH range from 5 to 7, or perhaps a bit higher[200]. Dormant plants are hardy to at least -20°c[187]. A very ornamental plant[1], but the flowers are very short-lived[187]. It can succeed in grass[1]. Plants are generally free of disease[200]. Polymorphic[1]. There is at least one named form with double flowers[187]. Special Features: Attractive foliage, North American native, Naturalizing.
Seed - can be sown in the spring or late summer in an outdoor seedbed. We would advise sowing in pots in a cold frame, preferably as soon as the seed is ripe, otherwise in late winter[K]. Stratification can improve germination rates. The seed produces a root after the first stratification but then requires a warm period and another cold one before a shoot is produced. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on for at least their first winter in pots. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late summer as they die down. Division in August after the leaves die down[1], or in early spring[111]. The plant has brittle roots and so should be handled carefully[238]. Cuttings of half-ripe shoots in late spring in a frame.
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Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[21]Lust. J. The Herb Book.
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
[43]Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany.
A bit dated but good and concise flora of the eastern part of N. America.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[95]Saunders. C. F. Edible and Useful Wild Plants of the United States and Canada.
Useful wild plants of America. A pocket guide.
[111]Sanders. T. W. Popular Hardy Perennials.
A fairly wide range of perennial plants that can be grown in Britain and how to grow them.
[165]Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism.
An excellent small herbal.
[169]Buchanan. R. A Weavers Garden.
Covers all aspects of growing your own clothes, from fibre plants to dyes.
[187]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Perennials Volumes 1 and 2.
Photographs of over 3,000 species and cultivars of ornamental plants together with brief cultivation notes, details of habitat etc.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[207]Coffey. T. The History and Folklore of North American Wild Flowers.
A nice read, lots of information on plant uses.
[213]Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food.
A nice book to read though it is difficult to look up individual plants since the book is divided into separate sections dealing with the different medicinal uses plus a section on edible plants. Common names are used instead of botanical.
[222]Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[254]Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
[257]Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
[301]Karalliedde. L. and Gawarammana. I. Traditional Herbal Medicines
A guide to the safer use of herbal medicines.

Readers comment                                         
Elizabeth H.
John Grassby Thu Jun 26 2008
Given that, in May of 2003, the FDA, not known for its friendliness toward herbs, published a 120+ page monograph attesting to the safety of bloodroot, I find it puzzling that you still cling to the old and thoroughly discredited, "It's toxic, it's toxic!" nonsense. And to suggest that it might actually be FATAL(!) is not only utterly baseless but provides a serious disservice to your readers. In the almost 400 years that we know it's been used, by no doubt millions, if not tens of millions, it's never killed, or even caused the hospitalization of, anyone, ever. In fact, over 300 articles published to date in the scientific literature report over forty (40) separate, discrete therapeutic properties and mechanisms of action present in the various alkaloids and other constituents bloodroot. In 1997 a German company, Phytobiotics, AG, discovered that bloodroot, added to animal (cattle/swine/chicken) feed, was a signficantly more effective, not to mention safer, antibiotic than pharmaceutical antibiotics. This was especially important there because, effective January 1, 2006, the EU banned the use of pharmaceutical antibiotics in animal feed. However, the $35-55 per pound cost of high quality wild-crafted bloodroot---the only kind avaialable since no one has ever figured out how to grow it commercially---is simply to high for animal feed. To the best of my knowledge, bloodroot does absolutely nothing for "benign skin tumors;" it "works" only if tumors are cancerous or otherwise diseased. Bloodroot is one of 5 herbal ingredients of "BR+ Herbal Complex," a whole food nutritional supplement that was developed over a four year period of R&D, and is now sold and distributed by Yampa Valley Botanical, llc---see I would be happy to share our exhaustive and continuously updated research on bloodroot.

Yampa Valley Botanical, llc, maker of BR+ Herbal Complex from there, link to the bloodroot site scientific site

Elizabeth H.
Ingrid Naiman Sun Oct 11 2009
I believe it is a serious mistake for herbalists (or anyone) to refer to herbs such as bloodroot as if they were somehow comparable to antibiotics. Antibiotics work directly on bacteria, usually due to their toxicity, such as a mycotoxin. They are indiscriminately harmful to pathogenic as well as friendly bacteria, such as in the intestines, and they paralyze white blood cells. Immune enhancing herbs, on the other hand, have two main methods of action. One is to protect the white blood cells from damage when they are ingesting toxic substances and the other is to stimulate their appetites and phagocytic activity. There are other herbs, not perhaps as well know for their antimicrobial function, that nourish the bone marrow, protect tissues from destruction, and so on and so forth. Bloodroot, in my opinion, is neither an "antibiotic" nor a nutrient for tissues, this whether we are considering the white blood cells or bone marrow. Rather, it is chemically reactive with certain morbid substances, mainly viruses, and has no apparent effect at all on tissues that are not morbid in its specific areas of aggressive interaction. I base this statement on the fact that a compound such as a bloodroot escharotic is highly reactive with some moles and not with others. An individual can apply the same product to multiple growths and some will react and some will not. Likewise, despite claims to the contrary by countless authors and product manufacturers, not all masses diagnosed as malignancies react with bloodroot. My advice to patients has always been to try to remove unwanted skin tags, moles, and tumors with practically anything else before trying an escharotic. However, if something is reactive with the escharotic, the odds greatly favor success when the products are used in a skillful manner. Ingrid Naiman, author of Cancer Salves: A Botanical Approach to Treatment and hostess of the web site: and (for practitioners)

Cancer Salves

private P.
You Don't Have To Die! Oct 10 2011 12:00AM
Alternative Medicine Solutions
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