Asarum canadense L. - Wild Ginger


 

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Asarum canadense - (image 1 of 8)

 

Taxonomy

Family: Aristolochiaceae

 

Plants with triangular, reflexed calyx lobes that abruptly contract into a short-tubular, 2-4 mm tip are var. reflexum (E.P. Bicknell) B.L. Rob. This variety is more common in the Midwest.

Habitat

Rich woods, along floodplains or mesic uplands.

Associates

 

Distribution

New Brunswick and Quebec west to Ontario and MN, south to NC, northern AL, and northern LA.

Morphology

Colonial, perennial herb. Mature plants typically produce two heart-shaped leaves, hairy. A single flower is borne on a short peduncle near the base of the plant, often obscured by the foliage; petals absent or vestigial; sepals deeply 3-lobed, reddish-brown; stamens 12; stigma 6-lobed. Fruit a capsule.

Notes

Flowers April to June

Wetland Indicator: Upland

The name wild ginger refers to the root, which is aromatic and reminiscent of ginger. It is sometimes used as a spice or made into candy, but is diuretic and contains aristolochic acid which is a potential carcinogen.

References

Foster, S. and R.A. Caras. 1994. A Field Guide to Venomous Animals and Poisonous Plants: North America North of Mexico.

Houghton Mifflin Company. New York, NY. 244 pp.

 

Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second Ed.
The New York Botanical Garden. Bronx, NY

 

Swink, F. and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region.
Indiana Academy of Science. The Morton Arboretum. Lisle, Illinois.

 


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Michael Hough 2004