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Asarum canadense - L.
                 
Common Name Snake Root, Canadian wildginger, Canada Wild Ginger, Wild Ginger
Family Aristolochiaceae
USDA hardiness 3-9
Known Hazards The leaves are poisonous[19]. Handling the leaves is said to cause dermatitis in some people[269].
Habitats Moist rich soils in woodlands, usually on calcareous soils[43, 159]. Understorey of deciduous (rarely coniferous) forests from sea level to 1300 metres[270].
Range Eastern N. America - Manitoba to New Brunswick, south to N. Carolina and Kansas.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade

Summary
Bloom Color: Brown, Purple. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Mid spring. Form: Spreading or horizontal.

Asarum canadense Snake Root, Canadian wildginger, Canada Wild Ginger, Wild Ginger


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Earthdirt Chris S. Packard
Asarum canadense Snake Root, Canadian wildginger, Canada Wild Ginger, Wild Ginger
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 1: 642.
   
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Asarum canadense is a deciduous Perennial growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 2. It is in flower in May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Flies.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

Habitats
Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Ground Cover;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Condiment.

The underground stem and the flowers are used as a ginger substitute[2, 55, 106, 177, 183]. The root, especially when quite dry, has a pungent, aromatic smell like mild pepper and ginger mixed, but more strongly aromatic[245]. The root is best harvested in autumn but is available all year round[159]. It can be dried for later use[159].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anthelmintic;  Antiasthmatic;  Antibiotic;  Antitumor;  Carminative;  Contraceptive;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  
Expectorant;  Irritant;  Poultice;  Salve;  Stimulant;  Stomachic;  Tonic.


Snake root was widely employed as a medicinal herb by a number of native North American tribes who used it to treat a wide range of ailments[257]. It is still occasionally used in modern herbalism. The root is anthelmintic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, irritant, powerfully stimulant, stomachic and tonic[4, 21, 46, 200, 238, 257]. It is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[4]. It is used in the treatment of chronic chest complaints, asthma, coughs, colds, dropsy, painful spasms of the bowels and stomach, scant or painful menstruation, infantile convulsions[4, 257]. The fresh leaves are applied as a poultice to wounds and inflammations, whilst a decoction or salve is applied to sores[257]. The root contains antibiotic substances effective against broad-spectrum bacteria and fungi[207]. It also contains aristolochic acid, which has antitumor activity[222]. The root and rhizome were slowly boiled in a small quantity of water for a long time and the resulting liquid drunk as a contraceptive by the women of one N. American Indian tribe[213].
Other Uses
Incense.

The slightly roasted root can be ground into a powder and then sprinkled onto clothing for perfume[257]. A useful ground cover for a shady position so long as it is not dry[197], spreading by its roots[208].
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Ground cover, Massing, Rock garden, Woodland garden. Prefers a rich moist neutral to acid soil in woodland or a shady position in the rock garden[1, 200]. Plants are found on alkaline soils in the wild[43]. Plants are hardy to at least -25°c[200]. The flowers are malodorous and are pollinated by flies[200]. Plants often self-sow when growing in a suitable position[200]. Special Features:Attractive foliage, North American native, Naturalizing, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.
Propagation
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.

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Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Asarum arifolium 01
Asarum blumei 01
Asarum caudatumWild Ginger, British Columbia wildginger32
Asarum dilatatum 20
Asarum europaeumAsarabacca, European Wild Ginger02
Asarum forbesiiDu Heng01
Asarum heterotropoides 02
Asarum maximum 01
Asarum nipponicum 10
Asarum reflexum 20
Asarum shuttleworthiiAsarabacca, Mottled Wild Ginger20
Asarum sieboldiiWild Ginger02
Asarum takaoi 10
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Author
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Botanical References
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Links / References
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Readers comment
 
Elizabeth H.
... Wed Sep 19 2007
Perhaps not mentioned explicitly was its use in treatment of poisen oak rashes.
Elizabeth H.
Sat Aug 16 2008
I'm curious; this states that aristolochic acid has anti-tumor activity but the little I've read is that it's a carcinogen.
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Subject : Asarum canadense  

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