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Asarum caudatum (British columbia wild ginger)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Asarum caudatum

Asarum caudatum Lindl.

British Columbia Wild Ginger, Long-tail Wild Ginger

Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort Family)

Synonym(s): Asarum caudatum var. caudatum

USDA Symbol: ASCA2

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

This mat-forming groundcover grows less than 1 ft. tall but up to 3 ft. wide. The main stem creeps along the ground with two leaves growing from each stem node. The large, heart-shaped, dark-green, persistent leaves hide the unusual, fuzzy, reddish-brown to greenish-yellow flowers borne from lower leaf axils. The bizarre brown-purplish to yellowish or greenish flower is hidden by heart-shaped leaves growing in pairs from trailing, rooting stems that form dense patches.

There are 2 other western species: Hartweg’s Wild Ginger (A. hartwegii), found in southern Oregon, northern California, and southward along the Sierra Nevada, usually has mottled leaves, and appendages on anthers longer than the pollen sacs; and Lemmon’s Wild Ginger (A. lemmonii), from the Sierra Nevada, with calyx lobes 1/2" (1.3 cm) long or less.


From the Image Gallery

2 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Cordate , Reniform
Leaf Venation: Palmate
Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous
Leaf Margin: Entire
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Size Notes: Height 7-10 inches, spreading widely.
Leaf: Dark green
Flower: Flowera 1-2 1/2 inches long. Sepals white inside with single median stripe.
Size Class: 0-1 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Green , Purple , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Flowers long lasting, hidden by leaves.


USA: CA , ID , MT , OR , WA
Canada: BC
Native Distribution: CA Coast Ranges from Santa Cruz Mts., n. to B.C. & n.w. MT
Native Habitat: Deep, redwood or yellow pine forests below 5000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Moist, rich soil.
Conditions Comments: Wild ginger provides an extensive ground cover for large areas. It can be too rampant for smaller sites.


Use Ornamental: Makes an effective groundcover for shaded areas.
Use Food: The aromatic stems and roots were used by early settlers as a substitute for the tropical ginger.
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes


Propagation Material: Clump Division , Seeds
Description: Propagates easily from rhizome divisions or seed.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

Status: FAC FACU
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 Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2009-11-23
Research By: TWC Staff

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