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Asarum canadense

Asarum canadense L.

Asarum acuminatum (Ashe) E.P. Bicknell

Asarum canadense L. var. acuminatum Ashe

Asarum canadense L. var. ambiguum (E.P. Bicknell) Farw.

Asarum canadense L. var. reflexum (E.P. Bicknell) B.L. Rob.

Asarum reflexum E.P. Bicknell

Asarum rubrocinctum Peattie

Wild Ginger, Canada Wild Ginger, Canadian Snakeroot, Broad-leaved Asarabaccais

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassMagnoliidaeIncludes magnolias, nutmeg, bay laurel, cinnamon, avocado, black pepper, and many others
OrderAristolochialesIncludes gingers
FamilyAristolochiaceaeBirthwort family
GenusAsarumWild ginger
SpeciescanadenseCanadian wild ginger

About plant names...

Canada wild ginger is native to eastern North America. It is protected in Maine as a threatened species. Canada wild ginger is not related at all to the popular spice we call true ginger (Zingiber officinale). The roots smell similar, hence the similar names, but Canada wild ginger is not safe for consumption.

Wild ginger flowers are easy to miss, hidden as they are beneath the leaves, on the ground. There’s a reason they keep a low profile: they evolved to attract small flies that emerge in the early spring. The flies are looking for a thawing carcass of some small creature for nutrition, and the flower emanates a scent similar enough to decom­posing flesh to attract the flies and hence pollinate the flowers.

Plants: These are low-growing plants that do not exceed 12" (30 cm) in height.

Leaves: Each plant has a pair of heart-shaped, rich green leaves, up to 6-8" (15-20 cm) in size. Leaf stems and leaf undersides have a velvety feel.

Flowers: Flowers are a distinctive purple-brown color, a central cup shape surrounded by three fused sepals and no petals. They somewhat resemble trillium flowers, and are hidden beneath the leaves, at ground level.

Fruits: A capsule containing many seeds. The ripened seeds have appendages called elaiosomes, tipped by a sticky bit of food. Ants carry the seeds to their nests, eating the food and ignoring the seeds, some of which germinate.

Edibility: Poisonous Skull & Crossbones Although the cooked roots have been used by some indigenous peoples, as a ginger substi­tute and a medication, they contain carcinogenic com­pounds and are toxic enough to injure the liver and kidneys.

Online References:

Asarum canadense at the U.S. Forest Service Celebrating Wildflowers site

Asarum canadense at Illinois Wildflowers

Asarum canadense on Missouriplants.com

Asarum canadense on Perry’s Perennial Pages at the University of Vermont

Asarum canadense in Paghat's Garden

Asarum canadense on eFloras

Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger, Canada Wild Ginger, Canadian Snakeroot, Broad-leaved Asarabaccais)

1/16/2019 · By Jacquelyn Boyt

Asarum canadense description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 12 Aug 2019.

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Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger, Canada Wild Ginger, Canadian Snakeroot, Broad-leaved Asarabaccais)

4/15/1979 · VA · By Tim Chandler

Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger, Canada Wild Ginger, Canadian Snakeroot, Broad-leaved Asarabaccais)

6/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 21 × 14" (52 × 34 cm)

Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger, Canada Wild Ginger, Canadian Snakeroot, Broad-leaved Asarabaccais)

7/23/2015 · Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, NH
≈ 11 × 7" (28 × 18 cm)

Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger, Canada Wild Ginger, Canadian Snakeroot, Broad-leaved Asarabaccais)

7/24/2010 · Acton Arboretum, Acton, MA
≈ 24 × 16" (62 × 41 cm)

Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger, Canada Wild Ginger, Canadian Snakeroot, Broad-leaved Asarabaccais)

7/23/2015 · Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, NH
≈ 15 × 10" (37 × 25 cm)

Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger, Canada Wild Ginger, Canadian Snakeroot, Broad-leaved Asarabaccais)

7/24/2010 · Acton Arboretum, Acton, MA
≈ 21 × 14" (52 × 34 cm)

Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger, Canada Wild Ginger, Canadian Snakeroot, Broad-leaved Asarabaccais)

8/5/2019 · Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Wildflower Trail, Hollis, NH
≈ 10 × 6" (24 × 16 cm)

Range: Zones 4-6:

About this map...