Plants are variable in leaf and flower shape and have in the past been chapter 19 medicinal plants pdf out as different subspecies due to these variable shapes. Currently most taxonomic treatments include these different forms in one highly variable species.
In bloodroot, the juice is red and poisonous. The rhizomes grow longer each year, and branch to form colonies. Plants start to bloom before the foliage unfolds in early spring. After blooming the leaves expand to their full size and go summer dormant in mid to late summer. March to May depending on the region and weather. The flowers are pollinated by small bees and flies. They grow less frequently in clearings and meadows or on dunes, and are rarely found in disturbed sites.
Deer will feed on the plants in early spring. The ants take the seeds to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes, and put the seeds in their nest debris, where they are protected until they germinate. They also benefit from growing in a medium made richer by the ant nest debris. The flowers produce pollen, but no nectar. Bloodroot flower petals are shed within a day or two of pollination so the flower display is short lived, but the double forms bloom much longer than the normal forms. The double flowers are made up of stamens that have been changed into petal looking like parts, making pollination more difficult. Salves derived from bloodroot cannot be relied on to remove an entire malignant tumor.