Wild ginger – Asarum caudatum

At a Glance

  • Family: Aristolochiaceae
  • Plant type: herb/forb
  • Distribution: Pacific Coast northern California up through British Columbia, east to northern Idaho and western Montana
  • Habitat: shady understory places in mostly late succession coniferous forests, moist, high organic soil with good drainage
  • Height: 3-6″
  • Reproduction: spreads through rhizomes and seeds
  • Flowers: dark purple flowers, 3-lobes that taper at the ends, 3-8cm long
  • Flowering season: April-July
  • Leaves: evergreen heart-shaped leaves with distinct venation, dark green color, trailing hairy stems
  • Generation: perennial
  • Notable features: leaves and roots smell like ginger when crushed

Ethnobotany/Commercial Use

  • Squamish people chewed and ate the leaves to treat tuberculosis, used it as a protective wash when bathing, and believed wild ginger to be a good luck charm
  • The Skokomish drank wild ginger leaf tea as an emetic and to settle the stomach
  • Makes a good garden plant as it grows easily and provides a lot of ground cover

Resources

For questions regarding the EERC Native Plant Guided Tour, contact Sarah at severlin@uw.edu.