Wildflower Week: Bloodroot

“Medicinally, bloodroot was used to treat coughs and stomach and urinary troubles,” Martha said. “The Iroquois also brewed a tea that they believed made the heart stronger and cleansed the blood of impurities. And they used it as a love charm.”

“A love charm,” I repeated thoughtfully. “I suppose that was because of its association with blood and the heart.”

“Perhaps,” Martha put her hat back on. “It has an important role in the sacred tradition. The Iroquois burned the leaves as a cleansing smoke to purify someone who had seen a dead person. And tribes in other parts of the country — the Ojibwa, the Ponca, the Potawatomi — used it to paint special identification marks on their faces, so that everyone would know at a glance what clan they belonged to….Bloodroot must have been powerful medicine.”

Bloodroot, A China Bayles Mystery by Susan Wittig Albert

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©2013, Jen Payne

8 thoughts on “Wildflower Week: Bloodroot

  1. my goodness, the flower reminds me of a daffodil… and you saw it on one of your walks? how wonderful – i have a bottle of bloodroot tincture (can’t remember why i got it, tho) and at one time i had a piece of the actual dried root (rhizome) to use for something or other, maybe for an occasional wart… i did find it listed in two books: “anit-septic, anti-spasmodic, cardio-active, cathartic, emetic, expectorant, pectoral, topical irritant…” (Holistic Herbal – David Hoffmann) and it’s used to help with digestion, respiration (asthma, bronchitis, etc), jaundice, hemorrhoids, ringworm, warts, polyps and tinnitus, among many other common complaints (Indian Herbalogy of North America – Alma R. Hutchens) Native Americans treated all types of blood conditions with bloodroot tea and used the acrid red juice to stain their skin and as a dye for decoration – it’s also cultivated in gardens (and, yes, she spells it “herbalogy”) that is quite a little powerhouse of a plant, no wonder it hides itself so well in the woods! thanks

    1. Big things come in small packages, isn’t that what they say? Thanks for this fascinating report on the different ways bloodroot can be used. This little patch is right off the trail – it’s a lovely little thing, isn’t it?

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