Wild Ginger

Wild Ginger, Asarum caudatum

Aristolochiaceae – Birthwort family

This peculiar plant is in a separate family from true ginger (Zingiber officianale), but like its tropical namesake, wild ginger possesses the fresh, spicy taste and fragrance. The generic name is of Greek origin for an Old World species. The distinctively long, tail-like (“cauda”) sepals engenders the specific name.

Wild ginger is found in moist and shaded parts of the woodland. The broad, thickly textured leaves are heart-shaped and suited to collect the limited amount of filtered sunlight reaching the forest floor. The dark green leaves are raised a few inches above the ground, sheltering the branching, prostrate stem and exotically formed flowers. The flower has no petals to speak of, but instead has long, partially fused sepals of brown-purple coloration. The unusual flowers have probably evolved to attract denizens of the humus layer that play the role of pollinators. Erna Gunther reported that one Native group made use of dried leaves to treat tuberculosis, while eating the leaves improved appetite, and boiling the plant produced a tonic.

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora. Bookmark the permalink.