|Sap oozing from cut leaf surface - Christine Chiu|
|Bloodroot leaf - Click to enlarge|
|Bloodroot Flowers - REK|
Bloodroot get its name form the color of the sap that extrudes from its cut surface. This colorful liquid was used by Native Americans as a dye as well as an antiseptic, a property that has been confirmed as antibacterial by modern medicine.
|Bloodroot seed capsule|
The story only gets more interesting. Their blossoms are replaced by a green seed capsule that will fade to yellow within days. Then it will do what all plants (and also all animals) spend their lives trying to accomplish, release its seeds for a new generation before fading until next year. The seeds are round and their colors are variable.
While our human ancestors first developed agriculture around 11,500 years ago, ants have been at it for much longer. Each Bloodroot seed has a tiny white elaiosome, a packet of energy with protein and lipids like a miniature energy bar from a quick shop. Ants pick up the seeds and transport them to their underground nest, providing food for the colony while planting the seed for next year's crop.
Since discovering Christine's demonstration of the "bleeding leaf," I find myself pinching off a corner of a Bloodroot leaf occasionally, just to watch nature work its wonders.
You can read more on Bloodroot in this previous blog.