Canada wild ginger

Asarum canadense

''Asarum canadense'', commonly known as Canada wild ginger, Canadian snakeroot, and broad-leaved asarabacca, is a herbaceous, perennial plant which forms dense colonies in the understory of deciduous forest throughout its native range in eastern North America, from the Great Plains east to the Atlantic Coast, and from southeastern Canada south to around the Fall Line in the southeastern United States.

It is protected as a state threatened species in Maine.
Asarum canadense Asarum canadense flower tipped upwards to show details of the stigma and stamens. Asarum canadense,Canada wild ginger,Geotagged,Spring,United States,flower,wild ginger


Its leaves are kidney-shaped and persistent. Underground shoots are shallow-growing, fleshy rhizomes that branch to form a clump. The flowers bloom from April through June, are hairy, and have three sepals, tan to purple on the outside and lighter inside, with tapered tips and bases fused into a cup.

Pollinated flowers develop into a pod, which splits open when ripe to reveal seeds with elaiosomes, structures that are eaten by ants .

The diploid chromosome number is 26.
Wild Ginger - Asarum canadense These plants are softly pubescent, especially the leaf petiole and flower. The flowers are located at the base of the plant - lying adjacent to the ground. 

The flowers attract small, pollinating flies that emerge from the ground during early spring looking for a thawing carcass to munch on. It's position on the ground allows it to be readily found by the emerging flies. The color of the flowers are similar to that of decomposing flesh. So, the flies enter the flowers and feast upon the pollen. Some of the pollen attaches to their bodies and is taken with them when they visit the next wild ginger flower. 

Spotted in growing large quantities in a swampy, deciduous forest. Asarum,Asarum canadense,Canada wild ginger,Geotagged,Spring,United States,Wild Ginger,ginger


The long rhizomes of ''A. canadense'' were used by Native Americans as a seasoning. It has similar aromatic properties to true ginger , but should not be used as a substitute because it contains an unknown concentration of the carcinogen aristolochic acid and asarone. The distillate from the ground root is known as Canadian snakeroot oil. The odor and flavor are spicy. It has been used in many flavor preparations.

Native Americans used the plant as a medicinal herb to treat a number of ailments including dysentery, digestive problems, swollen breasts, coughs and colds, typhus, scarlet fever, nerves, sore throats, cramps, heaves, earaches, headaches, convulsions, asthma, tuberculosis, urinary disorders, and venereal disease. In addition, they also used it as a stimulant or appetite enhancer, and as a charm. It was also used as an admixture to strengthen other herbal preparations.

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Status: Unknown
SpeciesA. canadense