Bloodroot

Family: 
Papaveraceae (poppies)
Description: 

A stemless plant consisting of a fleshy, horizontal, fingerlike tuber with reddish-orange juice that sends up a flower stalk wrapped by a single palmate, deeply scalloped, grayish-green basal leaf. The leaf unfurls when the solitary flower blooms. After the flower fades, the leaves continue growing (to 8 inches wide) until midsummer, when the plant goes dormant. Blooms March–April. Flowers open before or just as the leaves start to unfurl. As the flower opens, 2 sepals fall off, and 8–16 white petals of uneven size and length descend to a horizontal position, forming a flower that grows to 1¼ inch across, with many yellow stamens. Because petals are of uneven length, one often finds “square” flowers. Each flower lasts only one or two days.

Size: 
Height: to about 9 inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
Grows on rich, wooded slopes and valleys.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide, except for northeastern Missouri and Mississippi Lowlands.
Status: 
Common forest wildflower.
Human connections: 
Bloodroot is a favorite garden plant, but make sure you purchase plants grown by respectable nurseries that propagate plants without harming wild populations. In the past, Native Americans used the sap for dyes, and the rootstock has been used medicinally for its antiseptic and emetic properties.
Ecosystem connections: 
Even humble plants that are dormant most of the year contribute to the complexity of the ecosystem, binding the soil with their rootstocks, providing pollen during their blooming time, and supplying herbivores with nourishment.