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Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger)
Smith, R.W.

Asarum canadense

Asarum canadense L.

Canadian wild ginger, Wild ginger

Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort Family)

Synonym(s): Asarum acuminatum, Asarum canadense var. acuminatum, Asarum canadense var. ambiguum, Asarum canadense var. reflexum, Asarum reflexum, Asarum rubrocinctum

USDA Symbol: asca

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

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.

 

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

Distribution

USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , ND , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
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.

Benefit

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.

Propagation

Propagation Material: Root Division , Seeds , Softwood Cuttings
Description: Summer cuttings and fall root division best. Slow from seed.
Seed Collection: Seeds ripen 4-6 weeks after the first flowers appear. The fruiting structure is essentially unchanged from that of the flowers. The grayish seeds are in the lower portion. Germination is reduced if the seeds are stored.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: A mulch of leaves in spring and fall is beneficial.

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National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: UPL FACU FACU FACU UPL
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Amandas Garden - Springwater, NY
Sunshine Farm & Gardens - Renick, WV
Enchanter's Garden - Hinton, WV
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
Prairie Nursery - Westfield, WI

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:

Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Natural Biodiversity - Johnstown, PA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Bibliography

Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Asarum canadense in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Asarum canadense in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Asarum canadense

Metadata

Record Last Modified: 2013-09-09
Research By: TWC Staff

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