Canadian Wild Ginger, Asarum canadense

Canadian Wild Ginger

Asarum canadense

Benefits:
Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Spring
Zones: 2, 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Loam
Soil Moisture: Moist
Color: Green, Purple, Red, Brown
Fragrance: Yes
Height: 3-5 inches
Spacing: 3 inches


Description

Canadian Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) is a native spring wildflower which occurs in rich woods and wooded slopes throughout the State. Basically a stemless plant which features two downy, heart-shaped to kidney-shaped, handsomely veined, dark green, basal leaves (to 6 inches wide). Cup-shaped, purplish brown flowers (1" wide) appear in spring on short, ground-level stems arising from the crotch between the two basal leaves. Flowers are quite attractive on close inspection, but bloom singly on or near the ground and are usually hidden from view by the foliage.

The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring, and lasts about 3 weeks. After the flowers wither away, the seed capsule splits open to release the seeds. These seeds have a fleshy appendage. The root system consists of shallow rhizomes that are fleshy and branching. This plant often forms vegetative colonies.

Habitats include moist to slightly dry deciduous woodlands (both floodplain and upland), and bluffs. It often found along ravines and slopes.

Easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soil, in part shade to full shade. Prefers constantly moist, acidic soils in heavy shade. Spreads slowly by rhizomes to form an attractive ground cover for shade areas.

Although not related to culinary ginger, the roots of this plant produce a scent that is reminiscent thereof, but the plant is not normally used today for culinary purposes.

Culinary Uses:

Wild ginger is unrelated to commercially available ginger; however, it is named wild ginger because of the similar taste and smell of the roots. Early European settlers used to dry the rootstalk, grind it to a powder and use it as a spice. Nowadays, one of the best ways to enjoy wild ginger is as a candy or as a syrup. Wild ginger can be harvested from late-summer through fall. Because of the way wild ginger grows and spreads, harvesting the rootstalk of this plant is fairly easy. The rootstalk, or rhizome, grows along the surface of the ground and can be easily pulled up. You can discard the leaves and flower if it still remains; you will not be using these parts.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Usually grown as a ground cover in shady areas.
  The foliage is toxic.
Further Information

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