Papaveraceae / Poppies
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Lore: The juice from the root was used as a body paint and dye by Native Americans. Warriors painted their faces with it and maidens their bodies. Reportedly a woman was given as a bed mate to a colonist at Jamestown by a local tribe and was presented wearing only a coat of red body paint made from Bloodroot.(Dobelis) The root juice has been used as a dye for fabrics producing a yellow orange color that is very fast. It has also been used as a charm. Young men of the Ponca tribe would put the juice of the root on their palm and contrive to shake hands with the maiden they desired to marry and in five or six days she would be willing to marry him.(Foster & Duke) Applying the root or juice to the skin is a questionable activity as the plant is known to be an escharotic, a substance that kills tissue. See warnings below.
Medical Uses: Native Americans, early settlers and herbal practitioners have
prescribed Bloodroot for myriad medical conditions from skin cancers to sore throats. Its most persistent and possibly
valid use takes advantage of the flesh destroying properties of the root juice or powered root for treating conditions of the
skin such as ringworm, warts, polyps, fungal growths and the like. Researchers are investigating the root's value in
cancer treatment. An extract has long been used in toothpaste and mouthwash to fight plaque and gingivitis and this use is
now sanctioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The root has been used internally, in very small doses, to
stimulate the digestive system and as an emetic. Self medication should be avoided, as the plant can be toxic. Even
small doses can produce unwanted effects such as visual distortions. Warning:T The FDA considers Bloodroot
"unsafe" and urges that it not be used by herbal healers. It is far to attractive a plant to dig up anyway. (Erichsen-Brown) (Foster & Duke) (Dobelis)
One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.
This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.
Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves