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Sanguinaria – Wikipedia

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**Description of Bloodroot**:
– Bloodroot grows 20 to 50cm tall with large basal leaves up to 25cm across.
– Leaves and flowers sprout from a reddish rhizome with bright orange to red sap.
– Flowers bloom from March to May with delicate white petals and yellow stamens.
– Seeds develop in green pods 4 to 6cm long and are dispersed by ants.
– The Latin specific epithet canadensis means ‘of Canada.’

**Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology**:
– Bloodroot is native to eastern North America from Nova Scotia to Florida.
– It grows in moist to dry woods and thickets, often near water sources.
– Bloodroot is rarely found in disturbed sites.
– It is adapted to myrmecochory, a seed dispersal method involving ants.
– Ants protect the seeds until germination, and the plant benefits from ant nest debris in the soil.
– Bloodroot plays a role in the ecosystem by attracting specific pollinators.

**Cultivation and Ornamental Use**:
– Double-flowered forms of Sanguinaria canadensis are cultivated for ornamental purposes.
– The double flowers are prized for their large showy white blooms and extended blooming period.
– The cultivar S. canadensis multiplex Plena has received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
– Attention to the plant’s short-lived flower display is necessary for successful cultivation.

**Phytochemicals in Bloodroot**:
– Sanguinaria root contains isoquinoline alkaloids, mainly sanguinarine and chelerythrine.
– Sanguinarine, a red alkaloid, is most concentrated in the rhizomes.
– Other related compounds in bloodroot include berberine and protopine.
– The plant’s alkaloids are primarily stored in the rhizome.
– Sanguinarine is toxic and can cause tissue destruction if applied to the skin.

**Toxicity and Health Concerns**:
– Bloodroot produces toxic alkaloids, mainly sanguinarine, which can lead to tissue destruction and necrosis.
– Bloodroot extracts are escharotic and can cause severe skin damage.
– Internal use of bloodroot is not recommended due to its toxicity, which can result in vomiting and loss of consciousness.
– Overdosing on bloodroot extract can have serious health consequences.
– Caution should be exercised when handling or using products containing bloodroot.

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