Monday, April 12, 2010

Wild Ginger

Here’s a weird little flower that many people overlook. The bloom of the Wild Ginger, Asarum canadense, is typically situated beneath the leaf litter on the forest floor. It usually requires a little leaf removal if you want to get a clear view of the flower. Of course, it’s hard for me to look into the center of the flower without seeing the face of the Creature from the Black Lagoon looking out at me.

It doesn’t make sense for a flower to be hidden beneath the dead leaves, unless that’s where the pollinators are to be found. The list of pollinators for this flower ranges from carrion eating flies to ground dwelling beetles and ants. The common denominator among the various pollinators is their habit of searching for food within the leaf litter on the forest floor.

Most people only notice the pair of deep green, velvety leaves reaching for the sunlight. Even if a flower is uncovered, it’s hard to see from a standing position. In some areas, Wild Ginger becomes the dominant ground cover.

Wild Ginger is another plant that produces a tasty substance attached to the seeds in an attempt to get ants to carry them off and distribute them around the forest. This seed dispersal strategy seems to be shared by many woodland plants.

If you like hairy plants, you really need to get acquainted with Wild Ginger. The plant is almost completely covered in a thick carpet of hairs. The least hairy part of the plant is the upper surface of the leaf. It wouldn’t be a sound survival technique for a plant that gets limited sunlight, to put obstacles between the sun and the sun collecting surface.


  1. What a bizarre looking plant but also very interesting!! I have always been interested in horticulture but went to cosmetolgy school instead. I would much rather be studying the hair on a plant like this than the hair on a persons head=:)

  2. Fortunately, for those of us who like to study nature, the classroom is just out the door and school is always open. There are countless new things to be discovered by the person who has time to observe.

    As a side note: My sister went to cosmetology school and used me as her practice subject. When she finished school, I began cutting my own hair and have done so ever since.