Saturday, May 13, 2006

Spring Wildflowers

The native flowers of Vermont provide a nice prelude to summer from the time April snows melt and the ground begins to warm. One that I've enjoyed since childhood is Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis. It's a common spring plant, easily found along the eastern half of the US, and often found growing on shaded hillsides. Here is Vermont it blooms beginning in mid April or into early May depending upon your location. Although I can't find any populations growing on our property, I traded some daylilies for a nice clump last fall and was quite pleased with this year's flowers.

The juice from bloodroot was supposedly used by Native Americans as body paint. Today it is used as a dye for fabrics and yarns by those true to their craft. Getting juices on your hands or clothes serves a reminder for a while so use care. I learned the lesson from picking a bouquet as a kid and then getting yelled at for my stained hands and clothes. Too much yelling back then.

As the plant emerges in the spring, the leaves are tightly wrapped and eventually they emerge to entertain with their beautiful white petals and yellow centers. The flowers open and close each day and an evening photographer like me has to adjust one's schedule to secure a good shot.

At some point I'd like to inquire of an herbalist as to the medicinal uses a couple hundred years ago. In the meantime I'll continue to enjoy that one brief week each spring when bloodroots blossom and black flies emerge to torment anxious gardeners.

Gardening thoughts from the hill above Peacham Pond.

George Africa

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