Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Asarum canadense

Canadian wild ginger, Wild ginger

Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort Family)

Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger)
Sherman, Doug
This low, colony-forming perennial grows only 4-8 in. high. Each plant bears a pair of large, velvety, heart-shaped leaves. Growing at ground level in the crotch between 2 leafstalks is a single darkish red-brown to green-brown flower. The solitary flower is at ground level, hidden below the leaves. A similar plant with greenish-purple flowers, Hexastylis arifolia, has more triangular, evergreen leaf blades.

The fleshy rootstock, which has a strong, gingery flavor, can create a crowded network on the woodland floor, resulting in a dense ground cover of Wild ginger.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Cordate
Leaf Margin: Entire
Leaf Apex: Acute
Leaf Base: Cordate
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Size Notes: 3 to 5 inches high
Leaf: Medium green
Flower: Flowers apetalous. Stamens 12. Ovary inferior
Fruit: Brown
Size Class: 0-1 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Green , Purple , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun


USA: AL , AR , CT , DE , GA , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , LA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MS , MO , NH , NJ , NY , NC , ND , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , VT , VA , WV , WI , DC
Canada: MB , NB , ON , QC
Native Distribution: Que. & N.B. to Ont. & MN, s. to FL & LA. Eastern North America, Zones 3 to 7
Native Habitat: Woodlands

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8) , Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Soil Description: Moist, rich soils. pH of 6 to 7 best.
Conditions Comments: Doesnt grow in the high summer heat of Zone 8.


Use Ornamental: Good, low groundcover for Eastern woodlands and shaded landscapes.
Use Food: The root of this spring flower has a strong ginger-like odor and, when cooked with sugar, can be used as a substitute for ginger. (Niering)
Warning: Touching this plant can cause skin irritation in some people.
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Pipeline swallowtail butterfly.

Last Update: 2014-08-06