Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Bloodroot and Spice Bush

Today is another sunny, warm day (although the temperature went down to 38 last night). I love it but we could use some rain.

Last Thursday (March 27), I spotted Bloodroot on a steep hill on the side of the driveway. I couldn't get a photo then. Yesterday, at the bottom of the driveway, there were lots of these beautiful spring flowers.

Photo: April 1, 2008

Bloodroot (Sanuinaria candensis) is easy to find because its flower is large, almost 2 inches across. The orange juice of the stem was used by native Americans as a dye, hence the name Bloodroot.

Right across from the blood root, I spotted a Spice Bush.

Photo: March 26, 2008

Spice Bush flowers are small but with so many on the shrub, they provide a nice display in the bare woods. The leaves of the shrub taste spicy and are the host plant to the Spice Bush Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillar. We have hundreds of these shrubs throughout the woods but mostly lining the old logging roads and our driveway. No wonder I see lots of Spice Bush butterflies all summer.

Spice Bush is better to use for landscaping than the more common Forsythia and Burning Bush shrubs (invasive in the area) because it is native. It is great for wildlife (already mentioned the butterfly) but the birds love the red berries in the fall and early winter. The leaves turn bright yellow in the fall, providing nice contrast to the maroon red of dogwood leaves.

As I was driving down the driveway last Thursday, I also spotted some deer. I got out of the car and the three deer just stood there.

From what I learned on a recent naturalist field trip, these deer live in our hollow all year, with their territory only being about a mile. Since I saw a herd of 6-8 last fall, I am assuming that the hunters harvested most of this herd. I have to rationalize this--we don't have severe problems with deer as do others.

The temperature is rising (50 degrees) so I must get outside!


  1. Oh I love the bloodroot! Your pictures are like a preview of what to expect in my area in another month or so...I can't wait!

  2. Thanks Chris. I am glad you got a preview. Spring is just around the corner--I would think it would be earlier than a month though.

  3. I love bloodroot, too.
    If the weatherman's right and we get a sunny warm weekend--I'll be outside, too!!

  4. Thanks for the tip on spicebush! I have lots of forsythia and burning bush in the yard. Something native would be wonderful. Do you know if nurseries sell it?

  5. Nina--hope you see your bloodroot soon. The flowers seem to come out only on a sunny day. I can relate to that.

  6. Mojoman--I am not sure nurseries have it but you should ask them. Maybe they will start to carry it.

    I think Spicebush would look best planted with dogwood and some evergreens like cedar. I wouldn't plant it near the burning bush or forsythia because they are a lot more showy.

  7. I saw your pic of the beaver dam and used it to manipulate another - do you mind if I borrow it? At this time it is nmot posted - just uploaded.


    Regards, John

  8. John--you are welcome to use the photo of the beaver dam. Joan

  9. I just love this time of the year and your flowers are stunning!

  10. Mon@rch--thanks for the compliment. It means a lot from a great photographer like you!