name = Bloodroot

image_width = 240px
regnum = Plantae
divisio = Magnoliophyta
classis = Magnoliopsida
ordo = Ranunculales
familia = Papaveraceae
genus = "Sanguinaria"
genus_authority = L.
species = "S. canadensis"
binomial = "Sanguinaria canadensis"
binomial_authority = L.

Bloodroot ("Sanguinaria canadensis") is a perennial, herbaceous flowering plant native to eastern North America from Nova Scotia, Canada southward to Florida, United States. It is the only species in the genus "Sanguinaria", and is included in the family Papaveraceae and most closely related to "Eomecon" of eastern Asia.

Bloodroot is also known as bloodwort, red puccoon root, and sometimes pauson. Bloodroot has also been known as tetterwort in America, although that name is used in Britain to refer to Greater Celandine.

Appearance and growth

Bloodroot is a variable species growing from 20 to 50 cm tall, normally with one large, sheath-like basal multi-lobed leaf up to 12 cm across. The flowers are produced from March to May, with 8-12 delicate white petals and yellow reproductive parts. The flowers appear over clasping leaves while blooming. Plants are variable in leaf and flower shape and have in the past been separated out as different subspecies due to these variable shapes; currently most taxonomic treatments lump these different forms into one highly variable species. Bloodroot stores sap in an orange colored rhizome, that grows shallowly under or at the soil surface. Over many years of growth, the branching rhizome can grow into a large colony. Plants start to bloom before the foliage unfolds in early spring and after blooming the leaves expand to their full size and go summer dormant in mid to late summer. Plants are found growing in moist to dry woods and thickets, often on flood plains and near shores or streams on slopes, they grow less frequently in clearings and meadows or on dunes, and are rarely found in disturbed sites. The flowers are pollinated by small bees and flies, seeds develop in elongated green pods 40 to 60 mm in length and ripen before the foliage goes dormant. The seeds are round in shape and when ripe are black to orange-red in color. Deer will feed on the plants in early spring.

Caution: the sap is toxic; see below for further details.

Reproduction and genetics

Bloodroot is one of many plants whose seeds are spread by ants, a process called myrmecochory. The seeds have a fleshy organ called an elaiosome that attracts ants. The ants take the seeds to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes, and put the seeds in their nest debris, where they are protected until they germinate. They also get the added bonus of growing in a medium made richer by the ant nest debris.

The double flowering forms are prized by gardeners for their large showy white flowers, which are produced very early in the gardening season. Bloodroot flower petals are shed with in a day or two of pollination so the flower display is short lived. The double forms bloom much longer than the normal forms, the double flowers are made up of stamens that have been changed into petal looking like parts, making pollination more difficult.

Bloodroot produces morphine-like alkaloids

Bloodroot produces morphine-like benzylisoquinoline alkaloids, primarily the toxin sanguinarine. The alkaloids are transported to and stored in the rhizome. Comparing the biosynthesis of morphine and sanguinarine, the final intermediate in common is ("S")-reticuline. [cite journal |author=Alcantara J, Bird DA, Franceschi VR, Facchini PJ |title=Sanguinarine biosynthesis is associated with the endoplasmic reticulum in cultured opium poppy cells after elicitor treatment |journal=Plant Physiol. |volume=138 |issue=1 |pages=173–83 |year=2005 |month=May |pmid=15849302 |pmc=1104173 |doi=10.1104/pp.105.059287 |url=] [ [ KEGG PATHWAY: Alkaloid biosynthesis I - Reference pathway ] ] [ [ Sanguinarine Biosynthesis Is Associated with the Endoplasmic Reticulum in Cultured Opium Poppy Cells after Elicitor Treatment - Alcantara et al. 138 (1): 173 - PLANT PHYSIOLOGY ] ] A number of plants in Papaveraceae and Ranunculaceae, as well as plants in the genus "Colchicum" (family Colchicaceae) and genus "Chondodendron" (family Menispermaceae), also produce such benzylisoquinoline alkaloids.

Plant geneticists have identified and sequenced genes which produce the enzymes required for this production. One enzyme involved is CYP80B1, [ [ KEGG ENZYME: ] ] which produces ("S")-3'-hydroxy-"N"-methylcoclaurine from ("S")-"N"-methylcoclaurine.

Bloodroot extracts are toxic to animal cells

Sanguinarine kills animal cells by blocking the action of Na+/K+-ATPase transmembrane proteins. As a result, applying bloodroot to the skin may destroy tissue and lead to the formation of a large scab, called an eschar. Bloodroot and its extracts are thus considered escharotic.

In spite of supposed curative properties and historical use by Native Americans as an emetic, internal use is inadvisable. Although applying escharotic agents, including bloodroot, to the skin is sometimes suggested as a home treatment for skin cancer, these attempts can be severely disfiguring. [ [ Don't Use Corrosive Cancer Salves (Escharotics)] , Stephen Barrett, M.D.] Salves derived from bloodroot cannot be relied on to remove an entire malignant tumor. Microscopic tumor deposits may remain after visible tumor tissue is burned away, and case reports have shown that in such instances tumor has recurred and/or metastasized. [cite journal | url = | title = Consequences of Using Escharotic Agents as Primary Treatment for Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer | author = McDaniel S., Goldman GD | journal = Archives of Dermatology | date = 2002 Dec | volume = 138 | issue = 12 | pages = 1593–6 | doi = 10.1001/archderm.138.12.1593 | pmid = 12472348]

On 13 Aug 2005, U.S. news media reported that Dan Raber (of Georgia, United States) came under felony investigation for dispensing bloodroot paste to women with various ailments including breast cancer. It was reported that nine women developed disfiguring destruction of skin and underlying tissue. Reports also indicated that Lois March, M.D., who is a practicing physician in Cordele, Georgia, has also come under U.S. FDA investigation for her role in prescribing pain medication to Raber's disfigured customers while their use of bloodroot was ongoing. [ [ Ga. Doctor Accused of Aiding Flesh-Eating Treatment] , Health Highlights: Aug. 14, 2005] [cite web|url=|title=Accusation against Lois March, M.D.|author=Composite State Board of Medical Examiners (Georgia)|date= 2005-07-26]

Commercial use of sanguinarine and bloodroot extracts

The United States FDA has approved the inclusion of sanguinarine in toothpastes as an antibacterial or anti-plaque agent. [cite journal |author=Godowski KC |title=Antimicrobial action of sanguinarine |journal=J Clin Dent |volume=1 |issue=4 |pages=96–101 |year=1989 |pmid=2700895 |doi= |url=] [cite journal |author=Southard GL, Boulware RT, Walborn DR, Groznik WJ, Thorne EE, Yankell SL |title=Sanguinarine, a new antiplaque agent: retention and plaque specificity |journal=J Am Dent Assoc |volume=108 |issue=3 |pages=338–41 |year=1984 |month=March |pmid=6585404 |doi= |url=] [ [ How to Report Problems With Products Regulated by FDA ] ] [cite journal |author=Kuftinec MM, Mueller-Joseph LJ, Kopczyk RA |title=Sanguinaria toothpaste and oral rinse regimen clinical efficacy in short- and long-term trials |journal=J Can Dent Assoc |volume=56 |issue=7 Suppl |pages=31–3 |year=1990 |pmid=2207852 |doi= |url=] Currently, it is believed that this use may cause leukoplakia, a premalignant oral lesion. [ [ Leukoplakia] , (pdf format) hosted by the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology. Page accessed on December 19, 2006.] On 24 Nov 2003, the Colgate-Palmolive Company of Piscataway, New Jersey, United States commented by memorandum to the United States Food and Drug Administration that then-proposed rules for levels of sanguinarine in mouthwash and dental wash products were lower than necessary. [ [ Letter to FDA] , Collgate-Palmolive Company, 24 Nov. 2003] However, this conclusion is controversial. [ [ Letter to FDA] , Professor George T. Gallagher, Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine, 23 June 2003.]

Some animal food additives sold and distributed in Europe such as Phytobiotics' Sangrovit contain sanguinarine and chelerythrine. On 14 May 2003, Cat Holmes reported in "Georgia Faces" [ [ Georgia FACES ] ] that Jim Affolter and Selima Campbell, horticulturists at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, were meeting with Phytobiotics to relate their research into commercial cultivation of bloodroot. It is also used in the mole remover Dermatend.

Bloodroot extracts have also been promoted by some supplement companies as a treatment or cure for cancer, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has listed some of these products among its "125 Fake Cancer 'Cures' Consumers Should Avoid". [ [ 125 Fake Cancer 'Cures' Consumers Should Avoid] , U.S. Food and Drug Administration]

Historical use of Bloodroot and derivatives

The plant was used as a dye and for an herbal remedy by the native population. A break in the surface of the plant, especially the roots, reveals a reddish sap.

In physician William Cook's 1869 work The Physiomedical Dispensatory is recorded a chapter on the uses and preparations of bloodroot. [ [ Sanguinaria Canadensis. | Henriette's Herbal Homepage ] ] described tinctures and extractions, and also included at least the following cautionary report:

Greater Celandine ("Chelidonium majus"), a member of the Poppy family (Papaveraceae) was used in Colonial America as a wart remedy. Bloodroot has been similarly applied in the past. This may explain the multiple American and British definitions of "Tetterwort" in 1913.

ee also

* List of early spring flowers
* List of late spring flowers


External links

* [ USDA profile]
* [ Flora of North America, profile and map]
* [ Bloodroot pictures and information]
* [ Bloodroot pictures and information]
* [ KEGG (Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes) Alkaloid biosynthesis I - Reference pathway]

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, , (Sanguinaria Canadensis)

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bloodroot — Blood root , n. (Bot.) A plant ({Sanguinaria Canadensis}), with a red root and red sap, and bearing a pretty, white flower in early spring; called also {puccoon}, {redroot}, {bloodwort}, {tetterwort}, {turmeric}, and {Indian paint}. It has acrid… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • bloodroot — ☆ bloodroot [blud′ro͞ot΄] n. a spring blooming, North American wildflower ( Sanguinaria canadensis) of the poppy family, with a single white flower and lobed leaf arising from a rootstock that yields a toxic red juice …   English World dictionary

  • bloodroot — /blud rooht , root /, n. a North American plant, Sanguinaria canadensis, of the poppy family, having a red root and root sap and a solitary white flower. [1570 80; BLOOD + ROOT1] * * * Plant (Sanguinaria canadensis) of the poppy family, native… …   Universalium

  • bloodroot — kanadinė sangvinarija statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Aguoninių šeimos dažinis, dekoratyvinis, rauginis, vaistinis nuodingas augalas (Sanguinaria canadensis), paplitęs Šiaurės Amerikoje. atitikmenys: lot. Sanguinaria canadensis angl.… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • bloodroot — noun Date: 1722 a plant (Sanguinaria canadensis) of the poppy family having a red root and sap and bearing a solitary lobed leaf and white flower in early spring called also sanguinaria …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • bloodroot — noun A North American plant, Sanguinaria canadensis, of the poppy family which has a red root and sap and a single white flower in early spring …   Wiktionary

  • bloodroot — blood·root .rüt, .ru̇t n an herb (Sanguinaria canadensis) of the poppy family that has red sap and has a rootstock and roots used as an emetic and expectorant …   Medical dictionary

  • bloodroot — n. wild flower belonging to the poppy family …   English contemporary dictionary

  • bloodroot — n. Red root, puccoon, turmeric (Sanguinaria Canadensis) …   New dictionary of synonyms

  • bloodroot — blood•root [[t]ˈblʌdˌrut, ˌrʊt[/t]] n. pln a North American plant, Sanguinaria canadensis, of the poppy family, having a red root and root sap and a solitary white flower • Etymology: 1570–80 …   From formal English to slang

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