A woodland plant native to the eastern half of the United States and Canada, bloodroot has long been used to create a variety of natural medicines, including bloodroot salve.
Traditionally, bloodroot salve is used to treat various skin conditions, including warts, blemishes, skin tags and moles. Mixed with other ingredients, such as ash, it’s sometimes called “black salve.”
But a word of caution: Bloodroot contains a powerful escharotic, a substance that is corrosive. It can easily irritate the skin, and in some cases, use of it has created scarring at the application site. Therefore, before using bloodroot salve, consult your doctor.
Also, bloodroot salve is usually used in small amounts, not slathered all over the skin. Carol Gardiner, a gardener from Maine who grows bloodroot and makes salves from it, said that she only uses a pea size amount of her salve to treat warts. And once applied, she covers it with a bandaid.
“A little medicine goes a long way with bloodroot,” Gardiner said.
What does bloodroot look like?
Typically found in wooded areas, bloodroot ( Sanguinaria canadensis) is one of the first plants to flower in the spring. It lies low to the ground and produces white blossoms, which have a yellow center surrounded by overlapping, daisy-like petals.
The plant’s leaves are green and fat with many curvy lobes, and its stems lead down to a network of chunky, red roots. The roots lie just below the surface of the forest floor, making them easy to dig up and collect.
The plant’s name is derived from its roots, which ooze a blood-like sap when cut into.
Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.
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