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Published In: Species Plantarum 1: 442. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library
 

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 8/4/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Status: Native

 

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1. Asarum canadense L. (wild ginger)

A. canadense var. acuminatum Ashe

A. canadense var. ambiguum (E.P. Bicknell) Farw.

A. canadense var. reflexum (E.P. Bicknell) B.L. Rob.

Pl. 219 f, g; Map 914

Plants perennial herbs, with widely creeping, often branched rhizomes. Aerial stems not evident. Leaves paired at the tips of rhizome branches. Petiole 8–20 cm long, hairy. Leaf blade 4–15 cm long, broadly kidney-shaped to nearly circular in outline, rounded at the tip, deeply cordate at the base, hairy, the upper surface sometimes sparsely so. Flowers solitary at the rhizome tips, prostrate or somewhat ascending, with a stalk 1–5 cm long, appearing attached between the leaves, actinomorphic. Calyx deeply 3-lobed, sparsely to densely hairy (especially on the outer surface), the tube absent or very short and straight, the lobes 6–24 mm long, narrowly ovate-triangular, erect and slightly overlapping toward the base (appearing tubular), the tips spreading to recurved, narrowed or long-tapered to a point, purplish brown to maroon, the inner surface usually with a well-defined white to light green basal region that is sometimes spotted or mottled with purple, the outer surface often tan toward the base. Stamens 12, the filaments distinct but appressed to the style, the anthers with a minute, sharply pointed, sterile extension between the pollen sacs. Ovary with 6 locules. Stigmas 6, globose or nearly so. Fruits globose to barrel-shaped, somewhat fleshy, dehiscing irregularly, the calyx persistent. Seeds 3.5–4.5 mm long, concave and with a longitudinal ridge on one side, rounded on the other, ovate in outline, olive green to greenish brown, the surface wrinkled, the ridge with a fleshy caruncle toward the end. 2n=26. April–May.

Common nearly throughout Missouri (eastern U.S. west to North Dakota and Oklahoma; Canada). Bottomland forests, mesic upland forests, banks and terraces of streams and rivers, and bases of bluffs.

Earlier botanists divided this species into several varieties based on differences in calyx lobe length and shape, but as noted by Steyermark (1963) and Kelly (2001) there is too much variation in these characters over too continuous a range to permit formal recognition of discrete entities.

The pungent rootstock is sometimes used as a seasoning or cooked with sugar as a substitute for ginger. Medicinally, the plant has been used as a general stimulant and was once thought to cure a variety of maladies ranging from digestive disorders to colds, asthma, tuberculosis, and venereal disease. Wild ginger is also gaining in popularity among gardeners as a shade-tolerant ground cover. Steyermark (1963) noted that handling the plants has been reported to cause dermatitis in some people.

 


 

 
 
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