Carolina Redroot


Out of a fan shape comes a mélange of time sense, past, present, future.

I recently came across an interesting native species that is growing prolifically in an undisturbed wet prairie site. This is the Carolina Redroot, Lachnanthes caroliniana, a herbaceous perennial of the Haemodoraceae (Bloodwort) family. At this particular site, there are several hundred Redroots growing in populations disturbed about  five acres.

Redroot grows from a rhizome buried in a wet peaty like soil. From there, a single round main stem grows to a height between 3 and 4 feet. At the base of the main stem are basal sword-like blades in the shape of a fan. Each blade is about a foot in length and ½ inch wide.  The remainder of the main stem has just a few linear leaves.

At the tip of the main stem are one to three flower heads that branch from the main stem.  Each head has two to three dozen flower buds. Flowers have six petals, three are white and three are yellow in color. There are three fairly long yellowish male stamens surrounding a female pistil at the center of the yellow petals. The entire flower head, buds and flowers are covered by very dense hairs that look wooly.  Flower heads are 3 to 6 inches in diameter. At any time there are only a few flowers in bloom. There are remainders of some dried up former blooms. The rest of the head is made of future blooms in flower buds and the fruit  is a small capsule containing flat brown seeds. Unfortunately, Redroot, like many other species, is toxic.

The picture was taken in an undistributed wet prairie along Daniels highway.


Dorothy Rodwell