Two favourite spring ephemerals

Double bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis forma multiplex AKA S. canadensis ‘Flora Pleno’)

At last, I can put a tick mark on my Lust List: I now have double bloodroot, the fluffier, multipetalled version of the native spring ephemeral, Sanguinaria canadensis. The large-format image was a must here, that’s how much in love I am. They look so fetching with a few raindrops on the petals! Sigh.

Bloodroot is a diminuative ephemeral that blooms in the spring. Ephemeral means it sends up flowers and leaves, then in late spring disappears. No, you haven’t killed it. That’s how it protects itself from the heat of summer; it goes into dormancy. Then, next spring, the beautiful display begins again. The flowers are a joy. After they fade, the lovely foliage enlarges until it’s time to say bye-bye.

Already, a lovely clump

The name bloodroot comes from the orange sap that exudes from the cut root. Native Americans used this as a dye, and in fact gave this plant its another common name, red puccoon (from Virginia Algonquian poughkone via Merriam-Webster; it means a plant used for a red or yellow pigment).

Double bloodroot can be hard to find. I know that Marion Jarvie sometimes has some for sale. One online nursery in the States was listing it for $28 a crack. I was lucky. Mine was a gift.

This is its first spring, and I’m hoping it will be happy. The site conditions are favourable: partly shady, with well drained soil, and right by my rain barrel, so no excuse for not keeping it moist.

Uvularia grandiflora, also known as bellwort or merrybells

Another favourite among the spring emphemeral natives isn’t found in my garden… yet. However, it grows down the street at my neighbour T’s, so I have hopes. [hint hint] It’s called Uvularia grandiflora.

Uvularia is quite the name, isn’t it? Apparently, it was so called because the nodding buds looked like an uvula – that little dangly thing at the back of your throat. I prefer the common name, merrybells.

By coincidence, the plant sale for the North American Native Plant Society is May 7, 2011 at Markham Civic Centre. I don’t know if they’ll carry these two, but you’re sure to find many other beautiful natives for your garden.


  1. Helen:
    Both are essentials for the true woodland garden! I love that S.c.f 'Multiplex' blooms much longer than the traditional native! Such striking flowers that look like a rose! I am so happy you have finally acquired some. Sarah shouldn't have to wait too long for a division as they do clump up relatively quickly!

    The Uvularia is wonderful, but I have found it to be somewhat fleeting along the Shaded Walk. I added U.sessifolia this past fall after the local University Arboretum plant sale. I haven't seen either yet, but everything is so late this year – a good two to three weeks.

  2. the double bloodroot is outstanding. what a wonderful gift. I saw an uvularia grandiflora on a garden tour years ago and loved it but never got around to adding some to the garden. thanks for the reminder about this woodland beauty.

  3. Bloodroots are such beautiful flowers and I never see them in the wild so I was stunned to see a whole collection potted up for our local Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale – including the doubles. The singles are not expensive because "they are so common." Once I arrange some shade in my garden I am going to get some.

  4. We usually have a couple of pots of the double Bloodroot at the Beach Plant Sale. Your close-up photo is a stunner. I love seeing all of these native beauties come up every spring too. I was espceially pleased by all of the Triliums that came up this year, many from a plant rescue trip last summer.

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