Wild ginger is found in rich, moist forests in Eastern N. America - Manitoba to New Brunswick, south to N. Carolina and west to Kansas. It's an early bloomer here in middle Tennessee and the delicate bells shaped flowers are already beckoning pollinators. In cooler climates look for them in early April.
The flower of Wild Ginger is a fuzzy little beauty, but, you'll have to get on your hands and knees to see it. The flower has no fragrance, but, it's unusual shape should be seen up close to appreciate. What looks like petals are really part of the calyx and have pointy ends that add to its attractiveness. The flowers fade fast, but, the leaves are green all season, making Wild Ginger an important ingredient for a woodland garden.
Asarum canadence is made for the shade. It’s a beautiful ground covering wildflower when grown in loose, rich, organic soil (spreads by rhizomes). Needless to say, it doesn’t spread wildly or fast in my heavy clay soil, instead it intermingles with other wildflowers. Because it remains green all season, it's a lovely addition to any woodland/shade garden that emphasizes leaf shapes, textures and variations on greens. I can see it planted along a path edge, massed or interplanted with clumping Christmas Ferns, or any number of other shade dwelling beauties. In my garden it plays well with False dragonhead, Phlox divaricata, Christmas Ferns, Blue eyed Mary, Phacelia and Spigelia.
|Wild ginger is a fuzzy little beauty, but you'll have to get on your hands and knees to see it.|
Seed dispersal by ants is called Myrmecochory. This beneficial partnership between ants and plants is amazing: The ant gets a lipid (fat) rich meal from the elaiosome covered seeds and the plants benefit from the ant dispersing the seed far from the parent plant (thereby eliminating competition). Scientists also think that ants have a role in protecting seeds from seed predators when they carry the seeds away and by increasing germination rates when they eliminate the elaiosome surrounding the seed.
Nature never ceases to amaze me.
I love knowing that ants have moved wild ginger uphill in my garden. I sure didn't recall planting it there! This gives me an even better appreciation of ants, their midens (trash depositories) and their place in nature! I must thank them for planting it near the Christmas fern and wild Phlox!
Oh, in case you wondered, the leaves and rhizomes of Wild Ginger do give off a pleasant gingery fragrance when broken, but, this is not why I grow it. Not only is it lovely to look at, it's not palatable to deer and it's an important food source for the larva of the Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly. The caterpillar eats the leaves and thereby ingests aristolochic acid which makes it poisonous to birds.
|Pipevine Swallowtail on Ruellia strepens|
Common Name: Wild Ginger
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Native Range: Eastern N. America - Manitoba to New Brunswick, south to N. Carolina and west to Kansas
Zone: 4 to 6
Size: Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet and Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: Late March/April to May
Bloom Description: Maroon/brown
Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist (can take some dryness, but, it will fade fast in a drought)
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8) , Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Tolerate: Deer, Heavy Shade
Faunal Associations: The reddish brown flowers attract flies and beetles. The seeds attract ants because of their fleshy appendages; these insects help to disperse the seeds.
***an important food source for the Pipevine swallowtail Butterfly.
Comments: Doesn't grow in the high summer heat of Zone 8.
Companion planting: This plant is a wonderful companion for most wildflowers that like moist soil Consider using them with Wild columbine/Aquilegia canadensis, Celandine poppy/Stylophorum diphyllum, Christmas Fern/Polystichum acrostichoides, Lady Fern/Athyrium filix-femina,
Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata, Indian pink/Spigelia marilandica, Carex species, Fothergilla gardenii, Uvularia sessilifolia, Jeffersonia diphylla, Maianthemum stellatum, Polystichum acrostichoides, Pachysandra procumbens and other woodland wildflowers.
Welcome to Wildflower Wednesday and thank you for stopping by to see our March star. It's been in my garden for a long time and once again I ask myself how this workhouse in the woodland got overlooked. Thanks for joining in and if you are new to Wildflower Wednesday, it's about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if your wildflower is in bloom or not and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. Please leave a comment when you add your url to Mr Linky.
Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.