May 21, 2013

Plant of the month:
Asarum canadense

If you're trying to eliminate Garlic Mustard (an invasive, non-native plant in the U.S.) from your garden, Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) can help. I've read several articles lately extolling the virtues of A. canadense as a Garlic Mustard deterrent.

Unfortunately, we've had a Garlic Mustard problem for several years in the small forest at the back of our property. Largely due to the efforts of the fishman, it's now mostly under control. (To see a photo of Garlic Mustard to help identify it, check the link in the first paragraph.)

To help keep it away, I'm thinking we need more Wild Ginger!

Wild Ginger and False Rue Anemone

This attractive, native ground cover plant with heart-shaped foliage grows naturally in our woods, along with False Rue Anemone, Trillium, Bloodroot, and many other wildflowers.

shybloom

Wild Ginger's unassuming, tiny flower hides under its foliage, and until recently I had trouble locating the flowers. In my garden, thick Oak leaf mulch covers the base of each plant. But it's a fun scavenger hunt to find the flowers where the plant's paired stems meet.

tinyflower

You feel a little like you're exposing a shy creature, because the tiny magenta blooms seem to shun exposure.

A. canadense is native to all 48 lower U.S. states, but now is found mostly east of a line from from North Dakota south to Louisiana, according to the USDA. There are other Wild Gingers in the U.S. and around the world. A. canadense retains its foliage throughout the growing season. Each plant grows to about 6-12 inches in height and spreads to about 12-18 inches.

Its roots taste similar to culinary Ginger, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden, although I haven't tried it. I want every plant I have firmly in the soil.

twin leaves

A. canadense prefers partial to full shade. It grows in most USDA zones and prefers moist, acidic soils--although it tolerates average, medium to wet soils. Rabbits and deer tend to avoid it, but it's a food source for the pipevine swallowtail butterfly.

This is a plant I've taken for granted in the past. Now I hope to propagate more--to establish it as a ground cover and to chase away the Garlic Mustard.

fuzzy

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This is PlantPostings' 200th post. I've posted one to three times per week since October 2010, with only one lengthy break earlier this month. I'm still enjoying the journey, and I hope you are, too. Thanks for visiting my blog and continuing to share your garden stories.

56 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your post number 200, what a milestone!
    The wild ginger is such a pretty little flower, it would be perfect for my woodland area, next to my trilliums and aresaemas, I think I need to get some :-)

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    1. Thanks, Helene! I think Wild Ginger would fit right into your garden. I think there are some European species, too. The flowers are nifty, aren't they?

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  2. Keep posting! :)

    Here's to the next 200...

    PS - I tried an Asarum this year. It disappeared about two weeks after I planted it. It was a puny little thing that arrived mail order looking mostly dead. Now I fear it's totally dead. But I've been mistaken before when plants (I'm looking at you Liatris) that I thought were toast somehow managed to miraculously resuscitate themselves. So we'll see what happens comes fall and/or winter...

    PS - If you're looking for another native groundcover, how about Partridge Berry? I'm planning to plant it this autumn - http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/mitchella_repens.shtml

    PPS - They're not native, but I've really enjoyed a couple groundcovers that I planted last autumn, particularly Creeping Raspberry (http://backyardfruitguide.blogspot.com/2012/02/creeping-raspberry-perfect-fit-for.html) and Georgia Blue Veronica http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/plant-finder/plant-details/kc/r270/veronica-peduncularis-georgia-blue.aspx

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    1. Thanks, Aaron. Gosh, I hope your plant is there somewhere. I'll check out the other ground covers you mention. Actually, I have quite a few others. My favorites are Lamium and Lilies of the Valley.

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  3. Congrats on your 200th post...that's quite an accomplishment! I really enjoy your blog and look forward to many, many more posts!

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    1. Thanks! Your comments are so kind. I really appreciate the encouragement. I'm so glad we've met over the blogosphere. :)

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  4. Congratulations on your 200th post! I can't grow this interesting plant, unfortunately, but it was fun to read about it.

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    1. Thanks, Lyn. I wonder if there's a Wild Ginger for your locale, too. Your garden seems to have some nice shady spots. It's so beautiful.

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  5. Congrats on your 200th post!!! Quite an accomplishment. :)

    I am pleased to hear that wild ginger keeps out wild mustard. I have wanted to get some wild ginger, but this gives me an immediate reason to do so. Great post!

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    1. Thanks! Just having the goal is such good therapy, as I'm sure you know. Regarding the Wild Ginger, I agree--I need more. ;-)

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  6. Congratulations on your 200th post! I don't have any wild mustard around, but I would still like to try some wild ginger. I'll have to find out where it can be found. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks! I think a lot of reputable garden centers sell it, including Prairie Nursery (www.prairienursery.com). Good luck!

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  7. Wow, I didn't know it was a deterrent to mustard, but, I did know it was a wonderful ground cover. gail

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    1. I know, I was surprise, too. I found another article today from the USDA, but now I can't find it to post it here. I get the idea it takes a little work to get it established, but then it's hard for other plants to take over.

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  8. Congratulations! I love A. leaves a lot, but my only plant didn't like the location which I chose for it... I think I will try again. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks, Tatyana! I'm wondering about that, too. The patch I have occurred naturally, so I'm not sure how successful I'll be trying to get it established in a different place.

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  9. I enjoy your blog, so I hope you keep at it! I agree wild ginger is a great groundcover and a great plant. I had not heard that about garlic mustard, that is good to know. Only thing about wild ginger is that it does need some moisture to keep the leaves looking good through the year.

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    1. Thanks, Jason. I appreciate that. No intentions to end the blog at this point. :) I really miss it when I take a break. Time is the only deterrent. If I could make money doing this, I would do it all the time. It has become a passion.

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  10. Congratulations!!!!, sorry for the disconnection, it has been complicated with many thing around here, I need to catch up with your blog, I always enjoy it so much. Please keep up with publishing, your readers need you! Best, Lula

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    1. Thanks, Lula. You are so kind. And you have always been very supportive. I'm so glad we can compare gardening notes over all the miles!

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  11. Congratulations on 200! That is exciting to learn it is an alternative host for the Pipevine Swallowtail. Pipevine is so large. I was trying to attract Pipevine Swallowtails and bought a pretty cultivar that stayed a small plant, but the 3 caterpillars it attracted decimated the little plants! Wild ginger sounds like a great alternative, and the leaves are so pretty!
    I hope it helps with your invasives problem, too!

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    1. Thanks! I have to admit, I haven't noticed the butterflies on the Wild Ginger, but maybe it's because they're far from my porch and house. I agree--the Asarum leaves are simple, but graceful. The heart shape is nice, and they catch the wind in a pleasant way.

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  12. Happy 200th! I love the look of wild ginger, but I haven't seen it being sold (never know if it's me or the garden center's fault for that). Anyway, I'm so glad you showed us its flower! What a fun treasure hunt to see that sweet tiny bloom.

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    1. Thanks, Holley! Isn't it a nifty flower? I noticed it at my local garden center, but you can also order it through Prairie Nursery. See note responding to gardengirl92 above. :)

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  13. Well done on 100 x 2! You've taken a good photo of the little flower, I've puzzled over how to take one, but I think you've hit the nail on the head. Did not know it had that pretty marking on the inside. We too have been smacked with garlic mustard - such a problem. Would be great news if we were able to fight this invasive with a native.
    Barbarapc

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    1. Thanks, Barbara. I was trying not to include my hand in the picture, but I guess it shows how small the flower is. Plus, the flowers face downward, so I had to lift it up a bit. Yes, I'm hoping that the Wild Ginger will take over some areas of the woods where Garlic Mustard tends to grow.

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  14. Congrats on the staying power of the 200th post.

    I kind of wish they had given a bigger pic of the garlic mustard..it could be any plant.

    We might have wild ginger around here, I am going to have to go to the farm and take a look.

    Jen

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    1. Thanks, Jen. Part of me thinks, isn't it more than 200? But I only post 1-3 times per week, so I guess it makes sense. That link for the Garlic Mustard has a tab where you can see more photos of it. I'll be curious to find out if you have Wild Ginger, too.

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  15. Kudos on reaching your 200th post! Here on the west coast our native ginger is Asarum caudatum, which is similar. Ours loves a moist spot. Great shot of the flower!

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    1. Thanks, Alison! Mine is growing in a very shady, moist spot. I was reading a little bit about A. caudatum, too. The Wild Gingers are nifty plants.

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  16. I have a good stand of wild ginger as a ground cover. It's very thick and covers probably 15 to 20 square feet. It does great except when it gets really hot and dry toward the end of summer (here in west Tennessee). A sprinkle will revive it, but I've also found that if the leaves die back from the heat of summer, it does not kill the plant. Very tough! I also have a clump of the evergreen ginger (Asarum shuttleworthii). It is a slow grower with a marbled leaf. Very pretty in shade.

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    1. We had a severe drought last summer, but the Wild Ginger survived. I'll have to check out A. shuttleworthii. Interesting name!

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  17. Very nice photos! I love those leaves!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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    1. Thanks, Lea. It's a great plant, and the fact that it's native and belongs here makes it even better.

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  18. You have many of the same spring wildflowers that occur naturally in my garden. I also got some Virginia Bluebells and sone Celandine Poppy this year which are not native here, I hope they will naturalize. We are ahead of you in bloom though. most are over for me, now I'm getting into Columbines, roses, and my featured wildflower, Orange Honeysuckle.

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    1. It's always fun to hear what's blooming a little south of us, because that means those same things will soon bloom here, too. The Virginia Bluebells are native here, but not the Poppies. Both are beautiful, though!

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  19. Congrats Beth with 200 posts..I will have 200 in a couple weeks....I planting lots of Wild Ginger in hopes of deterring weeds in some areas....hopefully they will multiply and I can move them to other areas..fab plant to profile!!

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    1. Thanks, Donna! I seem to remember that we started out blogs around the same time. We're thinking the same way, as always. ;-) Good luck with the plantings!

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  20. Oh how do we know the numbers of our posts, i haven't seen it in mine! We have a lot of invasive species introduced here or accidnentally introduced. The most unwanted and abhorred is Mimosa with thorns. It is an ornamental in temperate zones but hits the ire of everybody here.

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    1. In Blogger, you should be able to click on the "design" tab at the top, and then click on "posts" on the left side. Then you'll see the total number of posts. Sorry about the invasive Mimosa. It sound like a beautiful plant, but not if it's compromising your native plants.

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  21. dear beth, congrats on your bicentennary. It's a real pleasure following your blog, I love the photos and the info. e.g the photo of the flower is exquisite. I have a ginger plant but it's different. It rarely flowers but when it does the scent is divine. Like you, I haven't eaten the roots but apparently you can.

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    1. Thanks! Oh gosh, I certainly appreciate your kind words! I feel the same way about your blog! I'll look forward to posts about your Wild Ginger.

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  22. Congratulations on reaching 300! When I started my blog, my son groaned and said, "Oh you're going to live forever in cyberspace." From the mouth of babes! So, congratulations for putting your voice out there!

    I have some of the wild ginger like that pictured, but I like the glossy leaved ginger even better because it shows up nicely against other more mundane foliage that seems to like my shade garden.

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    1. Thanks--it's actually 200, but I hope I'll make it to 300. ;-) That is so funny ... the comments from your son! The glossy leaf Ginger sounds fantastic!

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  23. Congratulations on reaching 200 posts, Beth! That's quite a milestone. You've given me yet one more reason to try planting some wild ginger. I thought about planting some around a big spruce tree where only the weeds like to grow, but I think I was worried the soil wouldn't be moist enough for it. Still, if it chokes out garlic mustard, I would gladly water it every day!

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    1. Thanks, Rose. I read something about Wild Ginger and evergreens, but I'm not sure what it was. Just thought I should let you know in case there's an issue with that combination.

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  24. 200 x congratulations! I'm coming up to my 4th blogaversary. I'll link you in to my dozens post.
    http://eefalsebay.blogspot.com/2013/05/lighten-our-darkness.html

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    1. Thanks, Diana! I appreciate the link! I've been without Internet access for a couple of days, but I'll be stopping by again soon!

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  25. Congrats on 200. I enjoy your posts and wish you at least 200 more.

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    1. Thanks, Donna! At this point, I'm committed to it. I hope we'll continue to keep in touch, too. Your blog and your conversations are so inspiring!

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  26. I'm so glad you blog!! It's been wonderful meeting you and I can hardly wait til next summer! :o) I've seen wild ginger growing before. It's very pretty and is often dug for its roots. I'd prefer to leave it in the ground, too.

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    1. Thanks, Tammy! I can't wait until next summer, either! Very soon I'll send out the itinerary. Please invite family and friends, too, if you want to. You and the other survey respondents will have the first chance to sign up, but your friends and family are welcome, too. (The Wild Ginger is nifty, isn't it?)

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  27. Thank you for another enjoyable post. Congratulations on your 200th post, and I hope there are many more coming.

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    1. Thanks, Masha! This entire experience is so rewarding--especially interacting with special people like you. And visiting your incredible blog!

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  28. Beth congrats on your 200th post. I always appreciate your comments on my blog. I planted some ginger that I purchased at a local garden club last and I thought they were dead. But, one came back, hooray! Happy spring by the way.

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    1. Thanks! I really appreciate that! I'm glad your Ginger came back. Happy spring to you, too!

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