European wild ginger is an attractive yet little-known ground cover that is perfectly adapted to shady spots in the garden. Although this particular species is native to Europe, there are several interesting North American wild gingers. The name "wild ginger" comes from the fact that the rhizomes of its eastern North American cousin, A. canadense, were once harvested as a ginger substitute.
Description of European wild ginger: European wild ginger produces glossy, evergreen leaves about 3 inches in diameter on 5-inch stalks. They are rounded and kidney-shaped in form. The brown flowers are almost unnoticeable, being formed at the base of the plant, under the leaves. Ease of care of European wild ginger: Easy.
Growing European wild ginger: Plant in partial to full shade. It does well in average soil but spreads faster in rich humus.
Propagating European wild ginger: By division in spring.
Uses for European wild ginger: An excellent ground cover for shaded spots. In fact, some experts consider it the single best choice for such locations.
Related species of European wild ginger: Canada wild ginger (Asarum canadense), native to northeast North America, has leaves that are larger than the European species (up to 7 inches) but not glossy. This species is hardy (USDA zone 3). British Columbia wild ginger (A. caudatum), USDA zone 4, is semievergreen. Mottled wild ginger (A. shuttleworthii), USDA zone 6, has mottled, deciduous leaves. Virginia wild ginger (A. virginicum), USDA zone 5, is similar to Canadian wild ginger but with evergreen leaves.
Scientific name of European wild ginger: Asarum europaeum