This month we meet a hardy groundcover for shaded properties: wild ginger. The gingery-smelling roots are edible and do have a ginger-like taste, although they are not closely related to true ginger. But mostly they are valued for forming dense, attractive green carpets, and the North American species is valued as a native groundcover.
We use both European wild ginger and American wild ginger in the landscape, although it does take some work to find them. Currently it’s easier to find the glossier European species, but as interest in native species grows, the Canadian variety is showing up in more places as well. The small, bell-shaped flowers are pollinated by flies, and they bloom on the ground underneath the leaves. They are only visible by pulling the leaves back.
Common Name: Wild Ginger
Scientific Name: Asarum canadense and europaeum
Light: full to partial shade
Size: 3-6” tall, 12-18” wide
Bloom Time and Color: small, maroon flowers grow underneath the leaves in spring
Notable Varieties: no cultivated varieties, just the two straight species
Soil: prefers consistent moisture
Other Notes: tolerates very deep shade, deer resistant