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          Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger)
          Sherman, Doug

          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.


          From the Image Gallery

          27 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

          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 , 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.


          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 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.

          Mr. Smarty Plants says

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          January 10, 2010
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          Plants for shade native to New York
          June 13, 2006
          I am gradually trying to convert my garden to all natives. I am working in a shaded area under a maple tree. Are there any varieties of epimediums/barrenwort or hellebores that are native to the nor...
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          Possible ground covers under pine trees in Illinois
          April 18, 2006
          Have pine trees in front of house. No luck with the lawn around them....was told it's because of ground acidity. Any tips on how to get a lawn to grow there? If not, can you suggest some ground cover...
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          National Wetland Indicator Status

          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 Organizations Directory

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

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


          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


          Record Modified: 2014-08-06
          Research By: TWC Staff

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