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A woodland species, wild ginger makes an attractive groundcover.

A woodland species, wild ginger makes an attractive groundcover. USDA, NRCS. 2012. The PLANTS Database (, 5 December 2012). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

Asarum canadense

Wild ginger (No Advance Orders)

Native to North America


FIRST IMPRESSIONS:  Asarum canadense is a lovely low growing wildflower with bold heart shaped leaves. In early spring, curious chalice shaped deep red flowers appear nestled in the foliage at ground level.  This shade loving groundcover occur in rich woods or on well drained wooded slopes.

HABITAT & HARDINESS:  Asarum canadense is native to eastern North America from Quebec south to Georgia and west to Manitoba, North Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. 

Plants occur in moist to somewhat dry sites including rich deciduous woods, floodplain forests, upland woods, ravines, slopes and wooded bluffs. 

This species is hardy from USDA Zones 4-8.

PLANT DESCRIPTION:  Asarum canadense is a native perennial groundcover that originates from fleshy branching rhizomes. 

Short stems emerge at ground level bearing 2 handsome heart shaped or kidney shaped leaves.  Foliage persists through the growing season.  Each blade is 3-6” wide with smooth edges and a deeply indented base.  Blades are dark green and downy with long petioles, a lovely taffeta-like sheen and prominent veins.

In spring inch wide maroon red or brownish-purple flowers arise on short stalks beneath the leaf pairs.  Blooms are pubescent with 3 pointed spreading sepals that fuse into a cup at the base.  The blooms are white, pale green or mottled with purple inside.  They are unique and lovely but are inconspicuous because they are hidden beneath the foliage.

Plants usually attain a height of 6-12” and a spread of 12-18”. 

CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS:  Asarum canadense grows best in shaded sites with rich loamy acidic soil and abundant humus.

Plants tolerate part shade, heavy shade, drought and moist to wet sand, loam or clay soils.

This species spreads slowly from underground rhizomes to form a dense groundcover.

Plants are resistant to pests and unpalatable to deer and other herbivores.

LANDSCAPE USES:  This beauty is a Low Maintenance candidate for the Shade Garden or Wildlife Garden.  Asarum canadense is also used for Erosion Control and as an Accent, Butterfly Host Plant, Groundcover, Grouping or Mass Planting.  Plants are appropriate for shaded Cottage Gardens, Deer Resistant Plantings, Rain Gardens, Rock Gardens, Water-wise Landscapes or Perennial Borders.

COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS:  Try planting Asarum canadense with spring blooming wildflowers like Aquilegia canadensis, Phlox divaricata, Iris cristata, Spigelia marilandica or Stylophorum diphyllum.

Carex pennsylvanica, Athyrium filix-femina and Polystichum acrostichoides are appropriate foliage companions.

Tiarella cordifolia or Heuchera americana ‘Dales Strain’ could be substituted for this plant due to their attractive foliage and shade tolerance.

TRIVIA:  Flies and beetles are likely the main pollinators of Asarum canadense flowers.  Seed have nutritious seed attachments called elaiosomes.  Ants disperse the seed when they take the elaiosomes back to their nests to feed the larvae. The caterpillars of pipevine swallowtail butterflies feed on the foliage.

This species is not at all related to true gingers. Asarum canadense is called wild ginger because the rhizomes emit a ginger scent when disturbed.  Plants are actually in the Aristolochiaceae or Pipevine family.

This wildflower is a great companion for shade loving spring ephemeral wildflowers.  The ephemerals emerge early in the season, bloom and die back usually by late spring.  Asarum canadense has persistent foliage that lasts through the growing season and continues to cover the ground after the ephemerals are gone.

This plant is a No Advance Order plant, which means it is only available to order when the plant appears on our Availability and must be shipped within 2 weeks of ordering.  We are more than happy to add you to a list to contact you when the plants become available.  We cannot offer approximate dates of when the plants will be available next. 


6-12 in


12-18 in


18-24 in

USDA Hardiness Zone:


Bloom Color:

Brown, Purple

Asarum canadense Characteristics

Attracts Wildlife

  • Butterflies
  • Pollinators


  • Ground Cover
  • Fragrant


  • Partial Shade to Full Shade

Deer Resistant

  • Deer Resistant

Flowering Months

  • May
  • April

Foliage Color

  • Green

Growth Rate

  • Slow

Juglans nigra Tolerance (Black Walnut)

  • Yes

Season of Interest (Foliage)

  • Summer
  • Spring

Soil Moisture Preference

  • Moist to Wet

Interesting Notes:

For more information on this plant, visit the USDA PLANTS Database:

Plants that work well with Asarum canadense ''

Wild columbine Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Wild columbine Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis 'Corbett')
Christmas Fern (No Advance Orders) Christmas Fern (No Advance Orders) (Polystichum acrostichoides)
Lady Fern (No Advance Orders) Lady Fern (No Advance Orders) (Athyrium filix-femina)
Woodland Phlox Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata)
Indian pink (No Advance Order) Indian pink (No Advance Order) (Spigelia marilandica)

Substitutions for Asarum canadense

Creeping foam flower Creeping foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia)
Dales alum root Dales alum root (Heuchera americana 'Dales Strain')