Asarum canadense, commonly known as Canada wild ginger, Canadian snakeroot and broad-leaved asarabaccais, is a herbaceous perennial native to deciduous forest in eastern North America, from the Great Plains east to the Atlantic Coast, and from southeastern Canada south to approximately the fall line in the southeastern United States.
Roots are shallow-growing, fleshy rhizomes that branch to form a clump. Leaves are kidney-shaped and persistent.
Flowers are hairy and have three sepals, tan to purple on the outside and lighter inside, with tapered tips and bases fused into a cup.
The diploid chromosome number is 26.
It is protected as a state threatened species in Maine.
The long rhizomes of A. canadense were used by Native Americans as a seasoning. It has similar aromatic properties to true ginger (Zingiber officinale), but should not be used as a substitute because it contains an unknown concentration of the carcinogen aristolochic acid. The distillate from the ground root is known as Canadian snakeroot oil. The odor and flavor are spicy. It has been used in many flavor preparations.
Native Americans used the plant as a medicinal herb to treat a number of ailments including dysentery, digestive problems, swollen breasts, coughs and colds, typhus, scarlet fever, nerves, sore throats, cramps, heaves, earaches, headaches, convulsions, asthma, tuberculosis, urinary disorders and venereal disease. In addition, they also used it as a stimulant, an appetite enhancer and a charm. It was also used as an admixture to strengthen other herbal preparations.
See also: Flowers Jamaica, Gift Philippines, Flower Philippines