Wild Ginger

Ojibway: Namepin
Latin: Asarum canadense L.

Wild-Ginger-1

Common Names
  • Canadian Wild Ginger
  • Indian ginger
Description

Growing at ground level in the crotch between two leafstalks is a single darkish red-brown to green-brown flower.

Flowers

3.8 cm (1 1/2 in.) wide, cup-shaped, with three pointed lobes; April to May

Leaves
Wild-Ginger-2

A pair of large, hairy, heart-shaped, each 7.5-15 cm (?3-6 in.) wide, overshadows the flower.

Height

15-30 cm (6-12 in.)

Habitat

Rich woods

Range

Quebec to New Brunswick; south to South Carolina; west through Kentucky to Missouri; north to Minnesota.

Discussion

This is a very important plant, as it had many uses. The root of this spring flower has a strong ginger-like odour, and by simmering the rootstalks in sugar a candy can be made. It can also be used medicinally to treat whooping cough, dress wounds, settle the stomach and make childbirth easier. When the Rainy River was heavily populated with sturgeon, fishermen would chew wild ginger to keep the sturgeon away from the boats, preventing the fish from tipping them over.

Warning

Touching this plant can cause skin irritation in some people.