Monday, February 11, 2013

Native Species Profile - Wild Ginger

Many plants and animals in North America are named for their resemblance to species in the Old World.  Often there is no genetic relationship between the New World species and Old World Species.

For example, the American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  is named because its orange breast reminded Europeans of the European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) which also bears an orange breast.  Many other species were named for similar reasons.

Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) is a low-growing plant that grows throughout eastern North America.  It is named after the Ginger plant (Zingiber officinale) which is native to Asia.  The Wild Ginger of North America has a similar smell and taste to the Asian ginger and has been used as a substitute for it in cooking and brewing.  Beyond this, the two plants share no relationship.

Wild Ginger
Wild Ginger grows in moist deciduous woods, floodplains, and along the banks of streams. It spreads by rhizomes and forms large colonies that share a common root system.

 It has heart shaped leaves that rise to a height of 6 to 12 inches.  The leaves reach a size of 3 inches across by 4 inches long.  The leaves and stems are covered with fine "hairs" that make the plant feel like velvet.

A Wild Ginger flower
The plant blooms usually blooms in Mid-Michigan between late April and early June.  The flower on a Wild Ginger grows from the fork between two leaf stems.  This flower is  about 1 inch across and has three petal-like sepals that curl backward from the opening.  The flower varies in color from brown to purple and sometimes greenish-red.  Like the rest of the plant, the flower is covered with fine "hairs"

The flower often sits directly on the ground and attracts ground-dwelling beetles as its main pollinator- another plant that uses a similar color scheme and flower location to attract beetles is the Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus). 

Basic Information

Wild Ginger
Asarum canadense

Height:  6 to 12 inches

Habitat:  moist deciduous woods, floodplains, stream banks

Flower Color:  purplish, brown, greenish-red

Bloom Time:  late April to early June

No comments:

Post a Comment