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This charming American wildflower grows along the northern slopes and river bottoms of Monticello mountain and Jefferson observed it blooming at Shadwell on April 6, 1766. He called it "Puckoon" (its Native American name) and watched its spring progression along with the narcissus, Virginia bluebells, and purple flag. By April 13, Jefferson's birthday, the Puckoon flowers had fallen. The early American botanist John Bartram collected specimens and sent them to his European patrons. Although the roots are poisonous, they were prescribed as a headache remedy and as a stimulant in small doses.
Single, pure white flowers bloom in early spring as the leaf emerges. Pinkish flowers occur rarely. Deeply lobed, palm-like leaf. Named for the thick roots that have orange-red juice. Found in rich, deciduous forests from Maine to Florida. Thrives in shady, moist, humus-rich environments.