Bloodroot Wildflowers on the Sweet Marsh in northeast Iowa. USA
Poppy family (Papaveraceae)
Description: Depending on its stage of development, this herbaceous perennial plant is about 3-12" tall. It produces only basal leaves that are about 3-5" wide and across. Each of these basal leaves is wrapped around the stalk of a single flower (sometimes two stalks are produced) as the flower begins to bloom. The basal leaves continue to unfold to their fullest extent as the flowers wither away. Each basal leaf is oval-orbicular in outline and palmate-reticulately veined, with 5-9 major lobes and several minor lobes along the undulating margins. The palmate-reticulate venation is fairly prominent and provides the rather succulent leaves with a wrinkly appearance, especially on their lower surfaces. The color of the leaves on the upper surface is light green, sometimes with greyish or bluish tints, while the lower surface is whitish green. The terete petioles are about 4" long and rather stout. The foliage of this plant is glabrous and glaucous.
The flowering stalk is terete, stout, glabrous, and sometimes slightly reddish, terminating in a single large flower. This stalk is about 3-4" tall when the flower begins to bloom. The flower is about 1½–3" across, consisting of 8-16 white petals, a green oval pistil, and numerous stamens with prominent yellow anthers. The pistil has a pale yellow stigma at its apex. There are 2 light green sepals that are nearly as long as the petals, but they fall off the flowering stalk as soon as the flower begins to bloom. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-spring, lasting about 2 weeks. Each flower remains in bloom for only 1 or 2 days (when it is sunny), producing a fragrant scent. Afterwards, each flower is replaced by a seed capsule that becomes enlarged and eventually turns yellow, splitting open to release its seeds. The root system consists of thick reddish rhizomes with coarse fibrous roots. Both the foliage and the rhizomes contain an acrid reddish juice. This plants often forms vegetative colonies.
Range & Habitat: Habitats include rich deciduous woodlands, wooded slopes, edges of bluffs, shaded ravines, banks of rivers in wooded areas, and areas along woodland paths.