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Asarum Canadense

Asaret du canada, gingembre sauvage Asarum acuminatum (Ashe) E. P. Bicknell; A. canadense var. acuminatum Ashe; A. canadense var. ambiguum (E. P. Bicknell) Farwell; A. canadense var. reflexum (E. P. Bicknell) B. L. Robinson; A. reflexum E. P. Bicknell; A. rubrocinctum PeattieRhizomes horizontal, shallow, internodes 1.0-3.5 cm. Leaves: petiole 6-20 cm, crisped-hirsute. Leaf blade not variegate, cordate-reniform to reniform, 4-8(-20) 8-14(-21.5) cm, apex rounded or obtuse; surfaces abaxially appressed-hirsute, usually sparsely so, adaxially appressed-hirsute, at least along main veins, marginal hairs perpendicular to margin or curved toward apex. Flowers erect or ascending; peduncle 1.5-3 cm; false calyx tube cylindric, externally tan or purplish, hirsute (often densely), internally white or pale green, occasionally mottled with purple, with white or purple hairs; distal portion of sepal spreading or reflexed at anthesis, 6-24 mm, apex apiculate to acuminate or filiform-attenuate, abaxially green or purple, hirsute, adaxially purple, puberulent with crisped purple or pale hairs; pollen sacs 1-1.5 mm, sterile tip of connective on inner stamens purple, 0.5-1 mm, shorter than or about as long as pollen sacs. 2 n = 26.Flowering spring-early summer (Mar-Jul). Understory of deciduous (rarely coniferous) forests; 0-1300 m; Man., N.B., Ont., Que; Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., D.C., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Nebr., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., N.Dak., Ohio, Okla., Pa., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.The rhizomes of Asarum canadense are occasionally used for seasoning. Handling the leaves is said to cause dermatitis in some people.Native Americans used Asarum canadense medicinally to treat flux, poor digestion, swollen breasts, coughs and colds, typhus and scarlet fever, nerves, sore throats, cramps, heaves, earaches, headaches, convulsions, asthma, tuberculosis, urinary disorders, and venereal disease; as a stimulant, a seasoning, and a charm; and to strengthen other herbal concoctions and heighten appetite (D. E. Moerman 1986).

asarum canadense

Wild ginger, Asarum canadense, 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 and a syrup (recipe below).

Names: The rhizomes of the root have a ginger flavor, hence the common name. The genus name Asarum, is derived from asaron, the ancient Greek name for a now unidentified plant. The species name, canadense, refers to 'of Canada' - the location of the type plant. The author name for the plant classification, 'L.', is for Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), Swedish botanist and the developer of the binomial nomenclature of modern taxonomy.

Where it growsAsarum canadense occurs throughout much of the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. It is absent from Florida and reaches its western limit in the gallery forests of the Great Plains. In Virginia it has been documented in all the counties of the mountains and piedmont region; it is less common on the coastal plain, having been documented in nearly half the counties of that region.

Asarum canadense is called wild ginger because the root was once collected to be used as a ginger substitute, but it does contain some toxic compounds and is no longer used as a flavoring. True ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a tropical plant and is completely unrelated.

Wild ginger (Asarum canadense) is a perennial ground cover that has attractive heart-shaped leaves. The Ginger is a slow growing plant, so it is great for plants with a lot of other flowers or ground covers. This slow grower likes lots of shade as well. A little bit of sun can be expressed but not more than a few hours a day. The plant only reaches about 6 inches in height. The Wild Ginger plant ships bare root year round. They grow well in zones 4-8.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Asarum canadense is a lovely low growing wildflower with bold heart shaped leaves. In early spring, curious chalice shaped deep red flowers appear nestled in the foliage at ground level. This shade loving groundcover occur in rich woods or on well drained wooded slopes.

CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Asarum canadense grows best in shaded sites with rich loamy acidic soil and abundant humus. Plants tolerate part shade, heavy shade, drought and moist to wet sand, loam or clay soils. This species spreads slowly from underground rhizomes to form a dense groundcover.

LANDSCAPE USES: This beauty is a Low Maintenance candidate for the Shade Garden or Wildlife Garden. Asarum canadense is also used for Erosion Control and as an Accent, Butterfly Host Plant, Groundcover, Grouping or Mass Planting. Plants are appropriate for shaded Cottage Gardens, Deer Resistant Plantings, Rain Gardens, Rock Gardens, Water-wise Landscapes or Perennial Borders.

COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try planting Asarum canadense with spring blooming wildflowers like Aquilegia canadensis, Phlox divaricata, Iris cristata, Spigelia marilandica or Stylophorum diphyllum.

TRIVIA: Flies and beetles are likely the main pollinators of Asarum canadense flowers. Seed have nutritious seed attachments called elaiosomes. Ants disperse the seed when they take the elaiosomes back to their nests to feed the larvae. The caterpillars of pipevine swallowtail butterflies feed on the foliage.

This species is not at all related to true gingers. Asarum canadense is called wild ginger because the rhizomes emit a ginger scent when disturbed. Plants are actually in the Aristolochiaceae or Pipevine family.

This wildflower is a great companion for shade loving spring ephemeral wildflowers. The ephemerals emerge early in the season, bloom and die back usually by late spring. Asarum canadense has persistent foliage that lasts through the growing season and continues to cover the ground after the ephemerals are gone. 041b061a72

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