Asarum canadense 

(a-sar' um ca-nah-dense')

Common name: Wild Ginger

Family: Aristolochiacae, Birthwort

Height x width: 6-12" x 12-18"

Growth rate: slow

Foliage: heart-shaped, velvety green, to 3-6" across, evergreen

Flowers: purple-brown cup shape of 3 united sepals (no petals), one flower per plant horizontal on the soil surface so it can be pollinated by beetles and flies crawling on the ground; spring with fruits by early summer

Hardiness: zones 3-7

Soil: rich organic, moist but well-drained, pH 5-7.5

Light: part to full shade

Pests and Problems: none serious

Landscape habit, uses: woodland, native, groundcover

Other interest: native to the northeastern quarter of the U.S.; Native Americans used it as a birth control agent, and for a variety of ailments as the roots contain aristolochic acid which has antimicrobial and antitumor properties; the common name comes from the pungent ginger flavor of the edible roots

Other culture: easy

Propagation: division in early fall, ripe seeds with elaiosome covering removed

Related Species:

European Ginger, A. europaeum, is often grown in perennial shade gardens, leaves being kidney-shaped and dark glossy green and smaller than Wild Ginger. Other species may also be seen less often.

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

Return to  Perry's Perennial Pages | HGPO course | PSS123 course