A brown thrasher sings, the air is like wine, the wild crab apples are blossoming-, and the wild ginger flowers have opened secretly and with no ado beneath the heart-shaped leaves. All that is visible from above is the mosaic of dull satiny, heart-shaped leaves which stretch in a broad area through the hilly woods.
Asarum reflexum Bickn.
But to the wood thrush poking among the leaves, or to the Polygyra snail ambling past on a moist, dewy spring morning, the wild ginger presents a different appearance. Under each pair of leaves - there are two leaves to each plant - there is a strange maroon and white flower lying upon or almost upon the ground. The outside of the flower is furry, as are the stems and undersides of the leaves. Three thinly tapering divisions of the flower bend outward. Inside, the flower is marked geometrically and artistically with black to form a pattern of six points around the six stamens and the stout pistil. Hidden though it is, the ginger is an ornamental flower.
The. wild ginger grows from a creeping rootstock which extends itself, branching, in all directions, so that a colony soon forms and becomes a mat upon the ground. Hardly anything else will grow in the ginger beds because of the dense shade made by the leaves and the monopoly of the roots in the ground.
The rootstocks are pungent and edible. At one time in America they were dried and candied, like Malayan ginger, with a flavor and spiciness much like the real thing. Even when eaten raw, the ginger root bites the tongue with true gingery pungency.