It is a threatened species
Papaveraceae/ Poppy Family
Perennial plant with a flowering stem up to 15 cm tall when mature. Grows slow. Leaf single basal, curled, around flowering stem when emerging, 10-18 cm wide, palmately veined and lobed. 3 to 9 lobes indicating root age with wavy or coarsely toothed margins. Flowers white (sometimes pinkish), solitary, 2-5 cm wide, with up to 16 but predominately 8 petals. 4 narrow petals alternating with 4 wide petals. April to May. Fruit a capsule 3-5 cm long. The name denotes the sap found in the root.
A shade wild plant sometimes used in ornamental in gardening. Moist rich soils in woods and woodland slopes in shade.
The root is toxic, containing a number of opium-like alkaloids that are also found in other members of this family. An excessive dose depresses the central nervous system, causes nausea and vomiting, and may prove fatal.
Medicinal Uses/Key Actions
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. In modern herbalism it is chiefly employed as an expectorant, promoting coughing and the clearing of mucus from the respiratory tract. The root is locally anaesthetic, cathartic, emetic, emmenagogue, expectorant, diuretic, febrifuge, sedative, stimulant, tonic. It is (dried rhizome) taken internally in the treatment of bronchial, respiratory tract and throat infections, and poor peripheral circulation. This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant or lactating women. Externally, the root (fresh juice or dried snuff) is used in the treatment of skin diseases, warts, nasal polyps, benign skin tumours, sore throats and chilblains (in a much-diluted gargle water). An infusion of the root or the sap of the fresh root is used. 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. Sanguinarine, which is obtained from the root, is used as a dental plaque inhibitor. The root is used to make a homeopathic remedy that is used to treat migraine.