Asarum canadense (Canadian Wild Ginger)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Asarum
Family:Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, shade; rich woods
Bloom season:April - May
Plant height:4 to 12 inches
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 3-petals Flower shape: tubular

[photo of flower] Flower is tubular/bowl-shaped with 3 dark red to brown triangular petal-like sepals with elongated tips. The tube is ¾ to 1 inch across; the flower is up to 2 inches across from tip to tip. The inside of the tube is creamy white; in the center is a ring of 12 stamens around the 6 reddish brown styles. The outside of the tube is covered in long white hairs, especially near the base. A plant has a single flower that lies on the ground at the base of the plant.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Each plant has a pair of basal leaves on stalks up to 6 inches long. Leaves are heart to kidney shaped with a pointed or rounded tip and a deep cleft at the base, the underside densely covered in soft hairs. The leaf stalks are gray-white, also densely covered with soft white hairs. On a mature plant, leaves are 6 to 8 inches long and wide, but are less than half that size when the plant first blooms. When leaves first emerge they are folded up and flat like a book, but unfurl within a couple days.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is a capsule containing many seeds.

Notes:

Wild Ginger tends to grow in colonies, spreading vegetatively through spreading rhizomes. The flower color makes it easy to miss among the brown leaf litter in the woods in spring, but the leaves are easily recognizable. It makes a great ground cover plant for a shade garden. It is not related to the ginger plant popular in Asian cooking.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County, Battle Creek Regional Park, Ramsey County, and Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, Rice County.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Debbie - Fillmore County, near Forestville State Park
on: 2010-04-18 01:12:49

These flowers were growing in a wooded hillside/bluff.

Posted by: Amy - Chisago County, Sunrise Township, our woods
on: 2010-04-20 13:06:31

Spotted them growing on a wooded hillside facing west.

Posted by: Kathy - Annandale, MN Wright Co, Clearwater Lake
on: 2010-04-24 13:10:23

been here 30 yrs and first time I noticed along path in woods. Extraordinary flower. Was exciting to find!

Posted by: Rochelle - Beltrami County, Bemidji MN
on: 2010-05-17 11:31:26

Growing on the edge of a mixed woods area. Very short and compact growth.

Posted by: Alison - St. Paul, MN
on: 2010-07-12 14:53:32

Wild ginger can be seen at Lilydale Regional Park in St. Paul, MN.

Posted by: Suzy - Fillmore County Lanesboro, MN
on: 2011-05-05 18:28:30

Growing in several locations in heavily wooded areas in moist soil near the south fork of the root river.

Posted by: Lauren - Becker County, East of Detroit Lakes on Minnesota 34
on: 2011-05-14 14:09:38

Growing under mixed oak, birch, and poplar along creekbed in sandy loam soil.

Posted by: Matt - Circle Pines, Anoka County
on: 2011-05-17 23:01:17

Several colonies of it growing in mine and my neighbor's back yard. Heavy shade, loamy soil.

Posted by: Crystal - Camp courage, Maple Lake MN
on: 2011-05-19 21:11:31

Just Came from MSR (formerly MS camp) these are all over the place along the trails there. amazing little plants. supposed to be very tasty also.

Posted by: Linda - Dakota County
on: 2011-07-15 10:49:46

This plant can be found growing in both Kaposia Park and Simon's Ravine Park in South St Paul. You can't see it from the main trail, but if you take some of the side trails (mostly deer paths), there are many large patches. It is also growing in the woods across from our home in South St Paul. That area was the site of major sewer excavation about 20 years ago, and the native wildflowers were seemingly destroyed (I confess to flinging around some native plant seeds after the work was done). However, it's been very interesting to watch the area recover, as I'm now finding not only the ginger, but also Solomon's Seal, False Solomon's Seal, and loads of Jack-in-the-Pulpit whenever I walk through there. Sadly, although the oaks, elm, maples and cottonwoods are doing well, there is a LOT of buckthorn.

Posted by: Mark - Frontenac State Park
on: 2013-05-13 07:46:18

abundant wild ginger, cliff-face paths along the Mississippi, in bloom 12 May 2013. Not a showy plant - very subtle.

Posted by: Melody - Brook Park
on: 2014-05-15 14:21:31

These grow in my yard. It is wooded thickly, and I found them in a wild blackberry and hazelnut patch.

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