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Canadian Wild Ginger
by Pam Potter - posted 04/18/14

Canadian wild ginger is an evergreen ground cover throughout most of the Eastern United States.

The flower of Canadian wild ginger is hidden under the plant’s heart-shaped leaves.

Asarum canadense or Canadian wild ginger is an unknown plant to most Minnesota gardens. A different species of ginger than the culinary one most people think of, Canadian wild ginger was eaten fresh or dried by the early settlers as a ginger substitute. It has a pleasant ginger-like smell when brushed up against and makes a beautiful ground cover.

Asarum canadense is a slow to moderate grower and will not be aggressive or invasive. Heart-shaped evergreen leaves form a pleasant mound in any shade garden. This low-maintenance plant needs moist, well-drained soil in part to full shade. Canadian wild ginger has interesting flowers hidden at the base of the plant that are for the most part overlooked. Because they are so close to the ground, the flowers depend on crawling, rather than flying, insects for pollination.

Common Name: Canadian wild ginger

Botanical Name: Asarum canadense

Color: Evergreen Hardiness: USDA Zones 3-8

Blooming Period: Spring

Type: Perennial groundcover

Size:  6 to 10 inches tall, spreading 12 to 24 inches wide

Exposure: Part to full shade; full shade is best.

When to plant: Divide in spring; container-grown plants anytime.

How to Plant: Divisions or transplants

Soil: Moist, well drained

Watering: Water regularly until established, then during dry periods.

When to Prune: Tidy up any winter-damaged leaves in spring and you can check out the close-to-the-ground flowers.

When to Fertilize: None needed

In your landscape:  A beautiful ground cover, but it is a slow grower, so have patience with new plantings.

From Minnesota Gardener Volume I Issue V. Photos courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture/NRCS/Plants Database


Pam Potter is a University of Minnesota Extension master gardener, landscaper and writer. Pam admits to and embraces her addiction to perennial gardening, buying new varieties of plants whenever she can find them. She shares her life with a very understanding husband, their four children and gardens full of everything but spirea.