As you would expect from the common name, the root of this N. American plant oozes red sap if it is severed. Sanguinaria is a wide-spreading perennial which belongs to the Poppy family, and has unfortunately inherited the drawback of having flowers with a very brief life span. The flowers may be fleeting but the large white blooms nestling amongst the greyish lobed leaves are extremely attractive. This is not a plant for a sandy pocket in the rockery – grow it in soil enriched with peat or compost.

VARIETIES: There is a single species – S. canadensis. The basic details are height 6in., spread 1VS ft.

Flowering period: April – May. The single flowers measure 1.5 in. across and last for less than a day – choose instead the longer-lasting and more eyecatching double form’Flore Pleno’. Do not disturb after planting – label the plants as the leaves and stems die down in winter.

SITE AND SOIL: Acid, humus-rich soil is required – thrives in sun or partial shade.

PROPAGATION: Not easy – carefully divide clumps in spring.

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