PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Wild Ginger (Asarum caudatum)

An evergreen ground cover native to the Pacific NW and one of many plants around the world that taste like ginger.

It goes quietly about its weird business under the canopy of other plants. Its particular weirdness is its flower. It looks like a maroon colored, tentacled, alien creature that hides amongst the leaves where various beetles and flies find and pollinate it. If you’re not actively seeking out the freaky bits in late spring, all you see is a carpet of rounded, heart shaped, dark green, glossy leaves only 4 inches high.

Wild Ginger’s happy place is the heart of a forest where the deep humus stays moist most of the time. In an urban landscape it would love to spread into a patch of itself in the shade of Rhodies & other shrubs, or under the canopy of Cedars & Douglas Firs. It likes moisture, so plant it away from the trunk and main roots of its companion which will commandeer all the water.

The roots taste like ginger, but in our opinion, it’s not worth the effort of destroying a lot of otherwise happy plants for a little flavor. We think it’s more enjoyable just knowing that the flavor is there… and that we grew that flavor… and we choose to not harass the plant for it. Also, there is wildly conflicting info out there on the wildly fallible interwebs about wild ginger’s toxicity.

Grow it because it is a super beautiful native evergreen groundcover for a shady spot and for its bizarro blooms.