Sunday, May 18, 2014

Wild Ginger

This is the wild ginger of north America.   Asarum canadense.   Notice the brown flower at the base of the stems.   Weird, but cool.

According to wiki [link above]:  Native Americans used the plant as a medicinal herb to treat a number of ailments including dysentery, digestive problems, swollen breasts, coughs and colds, typhus, scarlet fever, nerves, sore throats, cramps, heaves, earaches, headaches, convulsions, asthma, tuberculosis, urinary disorders and venereal disease. In addition, they also used it as a stimulant, an appetite enhancer and a charm. It was also used as an admixture to strengthen other herbal preparations
HOWEVER!  It has similar aromatic properties to true ginger (Zingiber officinale), but should not be used as a substitute because it contains an unknown concentration of the carcinogen aristolochic acid and asarone.The distillate from the ground root is known as Canadian snakeroot oil.

Around here, wild ginger grows in colonies on well drained, loamy slopes and rocky outcroppings.  It's a beautiful garden plant.

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