Wild ginger has some interesting ethnobotanical uses as well. Native Americans and early Euro-American settlers have used wild ginger as a spice. The root is harvested dried and then ground into a powder. Early settlers also cooked pieces of the root in sugar water for several days to obtain a ginger-flavored, candied root. The left over liquid was then boiled down to syrup that was used on pancakes and other food items. However, you should be aware that scientists have determined that the plants may contain poisonous compounds and consumption of the plant is highly discouraged.
Wild ginger makes an excellent addition to a shade garden. Growing it from seed is not practical, but a large colony of the plant will have a large mass of underground rhizomes. Rhizomes may be dug from the ground after the plant has leafed out in the spring and transplanted to your wildflower garden. However, harvesting wildflowers from the national forests is illegal unless you have obtained a permit. If harvesting from private property, only do so with the express permission of the landowner. Support your local native plant nursery by purchasing plants that have not been wild collected is a very good option. Once established in your shade garden, the plant will grow into a colony that can expand up to six to eight inches in all directions each year.
Asarum canadense, commonly called wild ginger, is a Missouri native spring wildflower which occurs in rich woods and wooded slopes throughout the State. Basically a stemless plant which features two downy, heart-shaped to kidney-shaped, handsomely veined, dark green, basal leaves (to 6\" wide). Cup-shaped, purplish brown flowers (1\" wide) appear in spring on short, ground-level stems arising from the crotch between the two basal leaves. Flowers are quite attractive on close inspection, but bloom singly on or near the ground and are usually hidden from view by the foliage. Although not related to culinary ginger (Zingiber officinale), the roots of this plant produce a scent that is reminiscent thereof. Fresh or dried roots were used by early Americans as a ginger substitute, but the plant is not normally used today for culinary purposes.Genus name comes from the Latin and Greek name.Specific epithet means of Canada but also used to cover north-eastern U.S. by early writers. 59ce067264