Asarum canadense (Canadian Wild Ginger)
|Also known as:|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; rich woods|
|Bloom season:||April - May|
|Plant height:||4 to 12 inches|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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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:
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 is a capsule containing many seeds.
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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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.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?