Asarum, an ancient name of obscure derivation.

A stemless perennial, found in rich, moist woods, where often it forms large beds of bright-green, velvety leaves.

New Brunswick to Manitoba, south to North Carolina and west to Missouri and Kansas. Abundant in northern Ohio. April-June.

Rootstock

Aromatic, creeping, bearing two or three scales, then one or two kidney-shaped leaves, then on with more scales and more leaves.

Leaves

Shining, covered with soft hairs, broad, kidney-shaped, on long, hairy petioles, usually in pairs with the flower between.

Calyx

Slightly angular, bell-shaped, hairy, thick, and fleshy, with three dark, reddish purple lobes, pointed and reflexed; the calyx tube grown fast to the ovary.

Corolla

Wanting.

Stamens

Twelve; filaments slender; anthers short.

Wild Ginger. Asarum Canadense

Wild Ginger. Asarum Canadense

Pistil

With a six-celled ovary, and surmounted with six thick, radiating stigmas.

Fruit

Fleshy, globular capsule; seeds large.

Pollinated by small flies. Stigma matures before the anthers.

In rich, moist woods one often comes upon beds of shining, velvety, kidney-shaped leaves that carpet the forest floor with a covering of rare and unusual beauty. If it is April an investigation will disclose that in the main these leaves are standing up in pairs and between them, close to the ground, so hidden under dry leaves that one must fairly dig it out, is a small, dark flower-bell on a short stem, its parts so grown together that the blossom seems almost solid. As a rule, the one thing a plant flaunts before all the world is a flower, but Wild Ginger reverses this, hides its blossom and instead of seeking sunlight puts it in the shade, almost in the dark. The probable explanation is that the flies that fertilize it live in semidarkness.

All parts of the plant have a decided ginger taste.