Laura Gonzalez

Country of origin: Puerto Rico
Plant:  Ginger

An evergreen ground cover, wild ginger grows in the dense shade of coast redwood and mixed evergreen forests. Asarum is an ancient Latin or Greek name of obscure origin, and caudatum, or tail-like, refers to the calyx lobes that elongate into three long slender tails. The reddish-brown flowers hide under the heart-shaped dark green leaves, appearing in late winter or early spring. Pollination is facilitated by, of all things, slugs which sometimes also damage the leaves. Ants, attracted to the smell of the fruit, take part in seed dispersal.
The leaves, two to four inches long and up to seven inches wide, and especially the underground stems give off a fragrance that smells much like ginger. However, this plant is not related to the culinary ginger (Zingiber officinale) that is used as a spice and herbal medicine. Propagation is easily done by dividing the creeping stems or roots, preferably in fall or winter. For those with limited space, planting it in a large container, or even in a hanging basket works well as the leaves hang gracefully over the edges.