Wild Ginger (Asarum caudatum)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Wild Ginger
Asarum caudatum
Aristolochiaceae

A useful ground-cover plant for deep shade[187], spreading by its roots[208].

  • Medicinal Use

    The root is laxative, stomachic and tonic[61, 257]. A tea made from the root is used in the treatment of colds, colic, indigestion and stomach pains[213, 257]. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[238].

    The whole plant is analgesic, antirheumatic, appetizer and tonic[257]. A decoction is used externally to treat headaches, intestinal pain and knee pains[257].

    A poultice made from the heated leaves is applied to boils, skin infections and toothaches, whilst a decoction of the leaves is used as a wash on sores[257].

  • Edible Use

    The root can be used as a ginger substitute[183]. The root has a pungent, aromatic smell like mild pepper and ginger mixed, but more strongly aromatic. It can be harvested all year round, but is best in the autumn[K]. It can also be dried for later use[K].

    Leaves are a tea substitute[177, 183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    Although no reports of toxicity have been found for this plant, at least 3 other members of this genus have reports that the leaves are toxic[7, 19]. Some caution is therefore advised in the use of this plant.

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the summer[134]. Stored seed will require 3 weeks cold stratification and should be sown in late winter[134]. The seed usually germinates in the spring in 1 – 4 or more weeks at 18¡c[134]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out when large enough in late spring. Division in spring or autumn. Plants are slow to increase[200]. It is best to pot the divisions up and keep them in light shade in the greenhouse until they are growing away strongly.
Prefers a rich moist neutral to acid soil in woodland or a shady position in the rock garden[1, 200]. Plants are hardy to at least -15¡c[200]. The flowers are malodorous and are pollinated by flies[200]. Plants often self-sow when growing in a suitable position[200].
Western N. America – British Columbia to California.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.