Habit: low growing evergreen groundcover produced from shallow rhizomes and trailing stems that freely root, spreading into a highly-matted growth form. The beautiful dark green, leathery, heart-shaped leaves are long stalked and measure 1.5 to 4 inches (4 -10 cm) long by up to 6 inches (15 cm) wide. The flowers are bell-shaped, maroon to brown in color, often hiding amongst the foliage, with thin “tails” extending away from the blossom like rays. The flowers bloom April – July or August and are only visible early in the year; by May new leaf growth will completely hide the later flowers. Fruits are capsules containing several seeds.
Ecology: occupies moist, shady woodlands at low to middle elevations 2200 ft (670m). Asarum caudatum is commonly found as an understory species in locations of conifer forests.
Growing Conditions: part sun to full shade and moist soil. Grows best in acidic soil rich in organic matter, well drained with low fertilizer. Tolerant of low water situations once it is established.
Both foliage and root has a strong lemon ginger aroma when crushed. The roots can be eaten fresh or dried and ground as a ginger substitute (not related to common culinary ginger root).
Always seek advice from a professional before consuming or using a plant medicinally.
**Illustration by Aislinn Adams 2010