South Dakota Native Plant Research
Aristolochiaceae : Asarum canadense

Aristolochiaceae : Asarum canadense


Download Seed: Brown seed of wild ginger is 3-4 mm long. (62 KB)

Download Seedlings (970 KB)

Download Mature plant (2.4 MB)

Download Flower showing stamens and pistil (592 KB)

Download Flower pedicel and sepals (676 KB)

Family Name


Common Name

Wild ginger


Asarum canadense is a creeping perennial herb growing from shallow aromatic rhizomes. The leaves are simple, paired, basal, erect, long petioled, growing to about 20 cm tall and covered with a soft pubescence. The leaf blades are 4-15 cm wide, heart-shaped at the base and have an overall kidney shape with entire margins. A solitary flower is attached between the bases of the pair of leaves laying on the ground and hidden by the leaves. The petiole is 1-3 cm long and pubescent. The flower is regular, 1-2 cm wide with 3 spreading to reflexed brownish-purple, 1.5 cm long, sepals that are fused to the ovary. There are 12 stamens, and the ovary has 6 locules. The fruit is a dehiscent many seeded capsule. The sepals remain attached as the capsule matures. Wild ginger blooms from late April to June in the moist deciduous forests of the Coteau des Prairies in eastern South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Wild ginger provides an attractive low groundcover for wooded and shaded landscapes. The rhizomes of this plant have a ginger-like odor and can be cooked with sugar as a substitute for ginger. It attracts butterflies and native beetles.

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Seeds ripen 4-6 weeks after the first flowering and the gray colored seeds are ready when the capsule splits. Germination is reduced if the seeds are not refrigerated.

Germination: the seeds are hard to germinate, needing warm-cold-warm treatments of about 60 days each. Plant out right after collecting the seeds and they will begin germinating the following year.

Vegetative propagation: Separate plants by cutting the rhizome in the fall and transplant.

Light: Full shade to partial sun.

Soils: Rich loamy moist soils with a pH of 6-7.

Notes: Cool temperatures and rich soil in a shaded area will produce vigorous growth.

Aristolochiaceae : Asarum canadense