A plant like this is the mark of fine taste. My first encounter with bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) was in the 10 acres of oak savanna woodlands on my family farm. Each spring like a ritual, I would sojourn into the woods, scouring the ground floor for crowds of my favorite ephemerals–Claytonia, Erythronium, Cardamine, and Sanguinaria. Named for the morphine-like substance exuded from their rhizomes, bloodroot makes an easy groundcover in the woodland garden, slowly spreading over the years to form a carpet of pristine, virginal flowers that harbinger spring.
The double form called ‘Multiplex’ trumps any of the rest. A loosely defined cultivar (no doubt any double mutation discovered over time has donned this name), it’s finally starting to become more available, descending from its lofty three figure price tags into an affordable range. Collectors have long coveted their clumps of ‘Multiplex’, hoarding them behind tall trees in the back of shady areas–floral moonshine–in fears of them being stolen (which has happened; smart crooks). Though it clumps at a moderate pace, it’s hardly so slow as to warrant obscurity.
But it’s that coveting, that hoarding that has resulted in its rarity. Hailed in the U.K. by the Royal Horticultural Society as one of the top plant introductions of the last 200 years, it’s a dashing, double-petalled example of our native North American flora and the impact such gems have had on international horticulture. It’s a shame then that so few domestic gardens have them, at least in comparison to that international popularity. No need to borrow or steal (begging however is condoned), these fine nurseries listed below offer them at a reasonable price.