Canadian Wild Ginger, Canadian Snakeroot
Asarum canadense

Family: Aristolochiaceae
Genus: Asarum (as-AIR-um) (Info)
Species: canadense (ka-na-DEN-see) (Info)
View this plant in a garden

Category:

Groundcovers

Perennials

Height:

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

Spacing:

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 2a: to -45.5 C (-50 F)

USDA Zone 2b: to -42.7 C (-45 F)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:

Partial to Full Shade

Danger:

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Maroon (Purple-Brown)

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Mid Spring

Foliage:

Grown for foliage

Variegated

Aromatic

Other details:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:

5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:

Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Murphys, California

Clifton, Colorado

Champaign, Illinois

Cherry Valley, Illinois

La Grange Park, Illinois

Machesney Park, Illinois

Rockford, Illinois

Washington, Illinois

Westchester, Illinois

Bedford, Indiana

Fishers, Indiana

Indianapolis, Indiana

Jeffersonville, Indiana

Macy, Indiana

Valparaiso, Indiana

Warren, Indiana

Iowa City, Iowa

Yale, Iowa

Fort Scott, Kansas

Mayking, Kentucky

Farmington, Maine

Crofton, Maryland

Silver Spring, Maryland

Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Gloucester, Massachusetts

Royal Oak, Michigan

Isle, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Pequot Lakes, Minnesota

Cole Camp, Missouri

Sedalia, Missouri

Frenchtown, New Jersey

Morristown, New Jersey

Neptune, New Jersey

Cherry Valley, New York

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Glouster, Ohio

Coopersburg, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Rock Hill, South Carolina

Viola, Tennessee

Blacksburg, Virginia

Leesburg, Virginia

Ellsworth, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

11
positives
2
neutrals
1
negative
RatingContent
Positive

On May 19, 2014, Chillybean from Near Central, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:

I planted some bare roots ten days ago and some are already flowering! They may just go wild in an area where I have never gotten anything to grow well before. We have so many bare patches that we hope this will fill them up.

Positive

On May 19, 2013, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

The only native plant that can choke out garlic mustard! That's why I love it. Perfect ground cover for a shady spot.

Canadian wild ginger is native to deciduous forest in eastern North America, from the Great Plains east to the Atlantic Coast, and from southeastern Canada south to approximately the fall line in the southeastern United States.

The toxic foliage is not eaten by mammalian herbivores.

Negative

On Jul 8, 2012, patriciaarln from Arlington, VA wrote:

I really wanted this plant to succeed under my two big silver maples. If it did well, I wanted to replace some of the lawn with it. But it has not taken off and, although it's still alive, looks pretty pathetic. I suspect it is too hot here in northern Virginia, or it doesn't like the clay soil. Too bad.

Positive

On Jul 3, 2011, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

A pretty hardy shade plant; I've found it does fairly well in drier areas, too. Blooms in May in my garden.

Neutral

On Oct 27, 2010, MsSarah from Gloucester, MA wrote:

Please be careful of consumption. Some indication that a chemical in asarum can damage your kidneys.

Positive

On Oct 26, 2007, creekwalker from Benton County, MO (Zone 5a) wrote:

I love this little plant and really like the idea of being able to use it as a Ginger substitute. I had transplanted a couple of the plants I had found in the wild to my city backyard and they were doing fine. But I moved and now have clay soil and woods. I bought some roots and planted them in the woods and so far some are surviving, but not many. I don't believe they are very drought tolerant and they seem to like moist shady places, but they seem to be cold tolerant. Hopefully I will have a couple return this spring.

Positive

On Mar 27, 2007, Sherlock_Holmes from Millersburg, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

The following information is from Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America by Fernald & Kinsey.

The rootstock has a fragrance and taste suggestive of ginger and is an agreeable nibble. It may be used either fresh or dried as a substitute for ginger in seasoning.

The long and nearly superficial rootstocks of Wild Ginger, cut into short pieces, boiled until tender and then cooked in a rich sugar-syrup and canned or not (as preferred) make a palatable substitute for preserved ginger. Although the rootstocks are reputed to be somewhat medicinal, no discomfort has been experienced from using this substitute in moderate quantity. Excessive eating of it might be harmful, a point which most who are sufficiently curious might well determine for themselves.
... read more

Positive

On Nov 18, 2006, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

It is also the most cold tolerant of all the Wild Gingers. I collected my plants in zone 3b even thought some books has the habit of saying it is only zone 4 hardy! It is also nice for Dry Woodland Shade (or on top of a tiny hill or highest spot in the yard)

Updated information - They will multiply slower in dry shade - like most shade plants they will multiply more rapidly and are more "fuller" in moister soil with part sun - I just say they are nice for dry shade - not many other Eastern United States native groundcover are at that height - about 4 to 6 inches high and make a nice edger in that condition. Beside in dry shade, there are less weeds as Wild Ginger will compete with them for nutrients and most important, water so that's a tradeoff - the plants will be more sc... read more

Positive

On Jun 12, 2005, gregr18 from Bridgewater, MA (Zone 6b) wrote:

The round, smoky green leaves of Asaram canadense are subtly beautiful. It currently grows half-wild in the darker edges of my garden, having escaped from a more formal treatment done years before by previous owners, and has flourished on its own. The flowers, pollinated mainly by crawling insects such as beetles, and ground-foraging flies, seem to elicit a variety of responses. I find them to be beautifully mysterious, maybe even a bit grotesque (as many beautiful flowers are), and I always look forward to pulling up the leaves each spring to see them sitting on the ground.

Positive

On Mar 7, 2005, northgrass from West Chazy, NY (Zone 4b) wrote:

The leaves of this wild ginger are quite large and seem to be made of velveteen . It does make a very attractice ground cover. I have mine growing under some white spruces. It grows wild in the woods here in northern New York.

Positive

On Jun 8, 2004, hostamom from Crystal Springs, MS wrote:

I found this beautiful ground cover in my back yard under an oak tree, didn't know what it was, just saw it everywhere and it doesn't die easily. I have very little growing experience. Hubby usually cuts it when grass is cut. Upon making new beds for flowers and shrubs on the front we wanted a ground cover to fill in the blank spaces instead of using pine straw or bark. So..... I pulled up a clump, just one, to see what was what, and transplanted it (actually stuck it in the wet soil) at the front of the house. To my surprise, it lived through a Mississippi winter and is now growing beautifuly and is slowly spreading. A year's time and it is about six clumps, it is a gorgeous low spread and looks like tiny hostas...beautiful and at no cost to hubby! I'm thrilled.

Positive

On Aug 4, 2003, Ladyfern from Jeffersonville, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

Cute little groundcover for a woodland garden. Does fine in fairly dense shade and clay soil.

Positive

On Aug 27, 2002, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Wonderful plant, whether for a groundcover or as a specimen. If it is planted on a slope, the flowers are apparent, and fascinating to see up close. Great at keeping weeds out, too. The rhizomes have a good spicy smell. I haven't eaten it personally, but I am told it is good fresh.

Neutral

On Aug 1, 2001, Verdesign from Memphis, TN (Zone 7b) wrote:

Asarum is a genus of approximately 70 species of low-growing, rhizomatous perennials occurring in woodlands. They have large, usually glossy leaves. The pitcher-shaped flower is insignificant. Best use is for groundcover in a shady border and as a woodland garden planting.

A. canadense is a decidous perennial with leaves 2-4 inches (6-10 cm)long.