Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Canadian Wild Ginger, Canadian Snakeroot
Asarum canadense

Family: Aristolochiaceae
Genus: Asarum (as-AIR-um) (Info)
Species: canadense (ka-na-DEN-see) (Info)

13 vendors have this plant for sale.

36 members have or want this plant for trade.

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6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

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

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

Grown for foliage

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:

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

Seed Collecting:
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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There are a total of 21 photos.
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11 positives
2 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Chillybean 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 plant_it 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 patriciaarln 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 Gabrielle 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 MsSarah 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 creekwalker 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 Sherlock_Holmes 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.

The following information is from Edible Wild Plants: Eastern / Central North America by Lee Allen Peterson.

Use: Candy, spice. The long horizontal rootstocks lie just below ground and are easy to gather. To make a pleasant candy, cut the rootstocks into short sections, boil until tender (at least 1 hour), simmer for another 20-30 min. in a rich sugar syrup, then separate and dry. The dried and crushed rootstocks can be substituted in recipes calling for commercial ginger.

The following information is from The Encyclopedia of Edible Wild Plants of North America by Francois Couplan Ph.D.

"The rootstock of Asarum canadense has been used as a spice either fresh (crushed) or dried (powdered). It is aromatic, it's smell and taste vaguely reminiscent of ginger (Zingiber officinale, Zingiberaceae). It can also be candied.

It has been used as a carminative, diuretic, and expectorant, and was reportedly made into a contraceptive tea for women by the Indians. Externally it is an irritant, provoking dermatitis in certain people.

The leaves can also be used fresh or dried as a condiment. It is wise to use moderation with all parts of this plant as a related European species (A. europaeum) is know to have emetic properties."

Positive Malus2006 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 scattered but they will keep weeds low (They can't stop woody seedlings - woody seedlings are tough as heck and require at minimum plants a foot in height that shades the soil under then to full shade level from every light angles).

Positive gregr18 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 northgrass 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 hostamom 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 Ladyfern 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 lupinelover 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 Verdesign 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.


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

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