Wildflowers and Plants of Ijams
The 315 acres of Ijams Nature Center are a patchwork of diverse soils and history. The Ijams family created a 20-acre home site that partnered cultivated gardens with a wild, natural bird sanctuary. Over time, the nature center has become the trustee of conserved, fallow, logged, and mined land, and each has a different story. The diversity of the property has created habitat for myriad native plants as well as invasive species. Ijams' commitment to conservation focuses on restoring and maintaining native East Tennessee habitats, allowing more indigenous species to grow and thrive.
Bloodroot is a perennial plant that sprouts with one leaf growing closely to the ground. The leaf has five to seven lobes. The flower, which has 8-12 white petals and a yellow/orange center, rises after the leaf. The leaf often wraps around the flower’s stem so that it looks like the bloom is held by a leafy hand. The leaves are present before and after flowering, and are among the best ways to identify this plant. The flowers bloom from March to May.
The fragile spring flower develops and rises from the center of its curled leaf, opening in full sun, and closing at night. Like most members of the poppy family, the bloom lasts for a relatively short time. Because of the red sap of its roots and stem, the name of this plant comes from the Latin sanguinarius, which means bleeding. Native Americans used this sap as a dye for baskets, clothing, and war paint, as well as for insect repellent.
These flowers are among some of Ijams’ earliest spring bloomers. They can be found in abundance on the nature center’s Universal Trail and around the driveway leading to the Miller Building. Even after their flowers have faded, their distinctive leaves continue to give them away.
This native wildflower is critical food for native insects. The biggest threats to bloodroot are non-native plants such as winter creeper and English ivy. The Ijams Natural Resource Management team continually treats areas with known bloodroot to keep invasive plants at bay and allow this species to thrive.