| Wild ginger leaves(Asarum caudatum)|
Wild ginger leaves
Asarum canadense is native to the forests of eastern North America. It is found from the Great Plains east to the Atlantic Coast, and from southeastern Canada south to approximately the fall line in the southeastern United States.
The plant is called wild ginger because the rhizome tastes and smells similar to that of ginger root, but the two are not particularly related. The root can be used as a spice, but is a potent diuretic, or urinary stimulant. Asarum canadense and other species in the genus contain the chemical aristolochic acid, which is carcinogenic in rats. The birthwort family also contains the Aristolochia genus. Aristolochia is a human carcinogen.
Wild ginger favors moist, shaded sites with humus-rich soil. The deciduous, heart-shaped leaves are opposite, and borne from the rhizome which lies just under the soil surface. Two leaves emerge each year from the growing tip. The curious jug-shaped flowers, which give the plant an alternate name, little jug, are borne singly in Spring between the leaf bases.
- Asarum arifolium
- Asarum canadense : Wild Ginger, Black Snakeroot, Canada Wild Ginger, Canadian Snakeroot, Broad-leaved Asarabacca.
- Asarum caudatum : Long-tailed Wild ginger
- Asarum caudatum caudatum : British Columbia Wild ginger.
- Asarum caudatum viridiflorum : Longtail Wild Ginger).
- Asarum europaeum : Asarabacca, European Wild Ginger, Haselwort, Wild Spikenard.
- Asarum hartwegii : Hartweg's Wild Ginger.
- Asarum hongkongensis : Hong Kong Wild Ginger.
- Asarum lemmonii : Lemmon's Wild Ginger.
- Asarum marmoratum : Marbled Wild Ginger.
- Asarum naniflorum
- Asarum splendens: Chinese Wild Ginger.
- Hexastylis (a closely related genus including Hexastylis speciosum (syn. Asarum speciosum) or Alabama Wild Ginger)
- U.S. FDA warning on aristolochic acid
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer.
- Health Canada advising not to use products labelled to contain Aristolochia.