Beautiful, Bountiful Bloodroot

May 4, 2022

Author: Phyllis Root
Photographer: Kelly Povo

When I drove south last week to Indiana, spring was tiptoeing into Minnesota, while down in northeastern Indiana it was tap-dancing away with springtime flowers and ephemerals blooming throughout all sorts of woodland patches along highways and streets. Many were familiar flower faces, but one, lovely red sessile trillium, was a new find, native to Indiana but not Minnesota.   

Coming back to Minnesota, I found that spring had made it here, too, in abundance, as Kelly had discovered when I was gone and was eager to show me.

We usually go down along Minnehaha creek the minute we think skunk cabbage, first of the wildflowers, might be melting its way up through the snow and ice. I had a memory of seeing some ephemerals and other early spring flowers along the creek years ago, but we had never gone looking for them once skunk cabbage had bloomed.

Now on a day of blue sky, warm breezes, birdsong and babbling creek water, we followed the trail below the falls that leads, eventually, to the Mississippi river. Skunk cabbage was still there, more than we could have imagined when we hunted for the earliest ones, their leaves now enormous and brilliant green with maroon flowers peeking out from underneath.  Trout lily leaves had popped up in many places, a few in bud, fewer yet blooming.  Clusters of Canadian wild ginger climbed the hillsides, hiding deep red flowers under their soft gray-green leaves. A congregation of large-flowered trillium was full of buds, promising future flowers.  So was cutleaf toothwort. Eastern false rue anemone had begun to bloom, and marsh marigold was just opening bright yellow flowers.

But the showstopper was bloodroot, so many more than we had ever seen, more than a person could count (and I am, at times, a flower-counter).  Their elegant, wide, white flowers climbed the hillsides by the hundreds, maybe thousands, a springtime spectacle.  The leaves of some still wrapped around the stems, but many leaves had unfurled like shawls framing the flowers.

Bloodroot belongs to the poppy family, a family whose flowers last briefly and then are done.  Wordsworth wrote his poem about daffodils filling his heart, but we had bloodroot to fill our hearts, and we wandered among them, grateful to see this bountiful blooming, a snowfall of flowers.

Please note- Red sessile trillium is not native to Minnesota, Phyllis saw it in Indiana where it is a native wildflower, but if you are interested you can see it at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary where they label it “Trillium- Toadshade.”

Author: Phyllis Root and Kelly Povo,

Phyllis Root is the author of fifty books for children and has won numerous awards. Kelly Povo, a professional photographer for over thirty years, has exhibited in galleries and art shows across the country. She and Phyllis Root have collaborated on several books. This is their first book on Minnesota's Native Wildflowers.

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