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Plant Profile: British Columbia Wild Ginger (Asarum caudatum)

This western wild ginger is a member of the birthwort family, Aristolochiaceae, that is known for its unusual flowers and is not a true ginger.  It is an evergreen herbaceous perennial with a creeping habit and is native to moist forests from British Columbia to California and west to Montana.  Plants have a creeping habit,  grow up to 6″ tall, and form mats up to 18″ across.  The heart-shaped leaves are paired, 4-6″  wide, and have 7″ petioles and hairs along the veins on the underside. From spring to late summer brown-purple to green-yellow flowers appear somewhat concealed beneath the foliage.  They are hairy and cup-shaped, and have lobes that are extended into long tails, giving rise to the specific epithet, caudatum, from the Latin word for tail.  The genus name, Asarum, is the Greek and Latin name for the plant.  Plants do not do will in hot humid climates.

Type: Evergreen herbaceous perennial

Bloom:  Brown-purple to green-yellow flowers appear in spring to late summer and are hairy and cup-shaped, with lobes that are extended into long tails

Size: 3-6″ H x 6-18″ W

Light:Semi-shade to full shade

Soil: Average, consistently moist to wet, well-drained, slightly acidic

Hardiness: Zones 6-9

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: Slugs, snails, rust (although relatively resistant to slugs)

Propagation: Division, seed

Companion Plants: Fern, hosta, hellebore