About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Native heart-shaped ground cover

Wild Ginger Asarum canadense is a ground cover that grows around my pond. A native to moist woods across most of Michigan, this hardy plant gets trampled by a lot wildlife at my house with little harm done. In fact chipmunks short-cutting through will make the plant release a pleasant gingery scent.

Green, heart-shaped leaves look like they grow straight from the ground. About 6 inches across, the leaves pop up early spring from fleshy rhizomes under the ground. Underneath the dark green leaves are small, green, fuzzy balls which bloom into maroon flowers on a short stem. The flowers are in full bloom from April to June but the leaves last until late fall. Ants disperse seeds by carrying off the edible seed appendages of the flower. 

It is not related to culinary ginger (Zingiber officinale), but the roots of Wild Ginger, fresh or dried, were once used by early Americans as a ginger substitute. However today it has been found to contain an unknown concentration of the carcinogen. This may be why the deer and bunnies avoid it.

Related Articles:
- How to garden for birds http://goo.gl/ypyRV
- Hummingbird Flowers http://goo.gl/XSy5V
- Monarda: Fireworks Flowers http://goo.gl/vFxDc
- Michigan Lily http://goo.gl/bSlff
- Wild plants that combine unique shape, fascinating folklore and practical uses. http://goo.gl/XEyWf

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