Flora of Scotts Creek Watershed
Asarum caudatum - Wild Ginger
Images: View Larger Images
Family Name: Aristolochiaceae
Common Names: Wild Ginger, British Columbia Wild Ginger, Long-tailed Wild Ginger
Origin: Native to California
Habitat: Moist, shaded woods or alluvial flats, rich soils with abundant moisture; often dominant in large patches, grows in deep shade in redwood-Douglas fir forests. Below 5000 ft elevation.
Life Form and Duration: Perennial Herb
Comments on overall growth: Spreading, with branching rhizome and trailing runnerlike stem. Single flower growing under and hidden by pairs of leaves. Plant aromatic, gingery smelling.
Foliage Type: Evergreen
Foliage Description: Leaves in pairs, heart shaped to kidney shaped, 2-12 cm long, on stalks 3-30 cm long, growing up from stem running along ground.
Flower Description: Flowers solitary in the leaf axils, 4-12.5 cm wide. Sepals petal-like, 3 lobes, brownish purple to greenish or yellowish or both; the lower portion of the lobes fused, upper portions tapering into narrow tips. Stamens 12, anthers pointed, stigma fleshy and ridged.
Flowering Season: April-July
Fruit Type: Fleshy capsule; seeds ovate, 3-4 mm long, dark olive green with a large gelatinous yellow arillus, dispersed by ants.
Plant Use: Used by early settlers as a substitute for tropical ginger, which is actually not closely related.
Common Associates: Oxalis oregana
Other Comments: Often forms a dense carpet with Oxalis oregana in redwood forests.