Friday, March 30, 2012

Early Wisconsin Natives - Bloodroot

"That urge, that need to see something in bloom after a long winter is unrelenting," I mused in a recent post about spring in Wisconsin, "and (imported) bulbs do provide an easy fix." Yes, the anticipation is high when Wisconsin finally comes into bloom after a long winter.

Certainly the "easy fix" of imported bulbs is fun. They can be planted in fall before the ground freezes, or they can easily be found in bloom at local stores each spring.  

However, with a little homework and a reminder on the calendar to be ready and snatch them up quickly, there are early-blooming natives that will bring excitement to early spring as well.

I was on a hike last weekend when I ran into just such a discovery (pictured above). At first glance from a distance, it might look like a patch of Snowdrop bulbs that many people plant. But a closer look tells a different story...

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Meet Bloodroot. The name is probably self-explanatory -- a red substance inside the root was used in years past to dye cloth and yarn. It could even be used to stain wood.

Bloodroot is a cheery little flower. With a yellow center, I wonder if this might have been the "buttercups" Laura Ingalls Wilder described long ago when she spoke of spring awakening in the Big Woods of Wisconsin.

Regardless, Bloodroot will spread out and form a nice little colony of blooms that eagerly herald the awakening of plant life to come.
A lonely Bloodroot found in my backyard

Last spring, I stumbled upon a lonely Bloodroot plant growing under one of my trees. A previous owner of our house was into all things natural and native, and occasionally I find a native plant relic from the time he cared for the property -- always a pleasant surprise.

Notice how the leaves are still wrapped around, hugging the stem? I flagged its location to protect if from future weeding efforts, and am hoping it will be in bloom again soon.

I've wondered if I should transplant it somewhere, since it has not spread out in its current location. But, I'd hate to accidentally kill the plant in the process.

I had planned to plant more Bloodroot this season, but finding it can be tricky. My only source right now is mail order, and quantities are limited.

It's already sold out for spring, thanks to my bout of appendicitis when early ordering opened up. I have my calendar marked to check back before the fall season push, which will probably begin in late summer. I don't want to miss out again.

Just like bulbs, Bloodroot can also be planted in fall. Its flowers will be anticipated all winter long, and eagerly sought for as spring comes into bloom.

It, too, will then provide an "easy fix" each year for that desperate need to find something in bloom as the snow blanket of a long winter finally melts away.

But, don't order until after I've ordered, okay? You don't want me to be disappointed by "sold out" notices again! I'd have to whine, and then you'd feel guilty!


linked up with Wildflower Wednesday at a new blog I just found!