Asarum caudatum

Common Name: wild ginger 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Aristolochiaceae
Native Range: Western North America
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to June
Bloom Description: Rusty-brown to brownish-purple to yellow-green
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer

Culture

Easily grown in humusy, slightly acidic, consistently moist to wet soils in part shade to full shade. Plants enjoy loose organic soils with good drainage. Plants often appreciate some dappled morning sun. Plants do not perform well in the hot and humid summer temperatures of the deep South. Established plants have some drought tolerance, however. Spreads by rhizomes, but also will self seed with the seeds often disbursed to other locations by ants.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Asarum caudatum, commonly known as western wild ginger or long-tailed ginger, is a rhizomatous, evergreen perennial that grows in a clump to 6” tall spreading to 18” wide or more. It is native to moist, mixed conifer forests below 2200’ in elevation in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, northern California, Idaho and western Montana where it often forms a thick understory ground cover. It is primarily grown in landscapes for its (a) bold, heart-shaped, evergreen, bright green leaves (4-6” wide) which grow in pairs on long slender petioles from each node, (b) hirsute, cup-shaped, triangular, rusty brown to brownish purple to yellow green flowers which bloom at ground level somewhat concealed by the foliage from April to June, and (c) rhizomatous spread which typically forms an attractive foliage mat. Leaves and roots smell of ginger when crushed, but plants in the genus Asarum are unrelated to culinary ginger (Zingiber officinalis).

Genus name comes from the Latin and Greek name.

Specific epithet means having a tail.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Slugs and snails are common pests of plants in this genus, but the within species is noted for having some resistance to slugs. Watch for rust.

Garden Uses

Evergreen ground cover for moist shady areas of woodland gardens, rock gardens and borders.