Wild Ginger

In the United States and Europe, the name wild ginger is commonly used for the plant Asarum canadense (Aristolochiaceae), which is not related to ginger in any way. It is an inconspicuous, herbaceous perennial, about 30 cm in height, found growing in rich soil on roadsides and in the woods. The plant is almost stemless, usually possessing two heart-shaped leaves and carrying a solitary bell-shaped flower between the two petioles at the base. The root stock is yellowish and creeping, and is sold in pieces 10 to 12 cm long. The plant has brownish ends that are wrinkled on the outside, whitish inside, fragrant, aromatic, spicy, and slightly bitter (Grieve, 2003).

It is called wild ginger because it gives a ginger-like smell. Native Americans have used the root to flavor foods, just like the true ginger. They have also used the root to treat digestive disorders, especially gas, and as a poultice on sores. It is often used to promote sweating, reduce fever, and to counteract coughs and sore throats. The plant extract has also been shown to have antimicrobial properties (Reed, 2003).

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