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Life Abounds in a Conservation Cemetery; Bloodroot


Bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis ) in bloom

Life Abounds in a Conservation Cemetery: Bloodroot

A conservation cemetery is, by design, a green space large enough to be a true nature preserve. It may encompass a woodland, a field of wildflowers, even a stream. The hope is that in communion with the natural world, we will find comfort and peace, that in walking amongst the trees, we will find solace for our aching hearts.  The intention is to honor the earth and provide a refuge from development and other human impacts. There are countless animals and plants that will benefit from this gift. This month we focus on one such beneficiary, Bloodroot:

At the first signs of spring, wildflower enthusiasts in the know go into the woods in search of bloodroot. An early bloomer among the spring ephemerals, bloodroot covers the forest floor with striking pure white petals with bright yellow anthers dancing in their center. Bloodroots bloom before most other wildflowers emerge, attracting pollinators with their showy petals without producing nectar. If the weather is cold and pollinators are not available, they are able to self-pollinate. The red seeds contain an elaisome, a small fleshy organ that attracts ants. The ants carry the seeds to their nests, where the elasiome is eaten and the seed remains in a safe area for germination.  The large, notched leaves unfurl as the flowers die, providing a beautiful ground cover that persists for months and serves as a reminder of the beauty that each spring draws the devoted. A member of the Poppy family, bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) contains  an alkaloid that is used in dental products to prevent plaque and has shown promise in anti-cancer treatments.

Contributed by: Kim Bailey, a naturalist at Warner Park Nature Center in Nashville TN. She is an avid hiker, cyclist, photographer and explorer of the natural world.   Her powerful childhood connection to nature led to a lifetime commitment to educating others about the joys and responsibilities of caring for the earth.

Bloodroot foliage


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