Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Three Odd Gingers

Wild gingers are interesting little plants, but one wouldn't make a bouquet of their flowers... they are just a little odd. Here are three of the odder ones: first, Asarum heterotropoides var. mandshuricum, with attractive, large heart-shaped leaves. The flowers are small, and burgundy speckled. this ginger is sometimes called the Manchurian ginger, and is widely used in Chinese herbal medicine. The second flower shown is that of Asarum minamitanianum, a rare ginger from Kyushu. It has shiny, patterned leaves and a flower that looks like it's from outer space. The ginger shown below is Asarum caulescens, a well-known ginger from the mountain forests of Japan; it is the symbol of the famous shrine of Kamu Jinja, and the leaves of this plant are the most important food source for the national butterfly of Japan, Luehdorfia japonica. It is a very small, creeping ginger with cute little thimble shaped flowers and neat little heart-shaped leaves with prominent leaf veins. It's deciduous, which makes it more reliably hardy here.
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This is one I will never have enough shade for!!!
Do you have any sun, Don?
I've always been fascinated by wild gingers, ever since I found my first one by accident in the northcoast redwoods!

I was sitting just taking a break (I was timber cruising) eatting my lunch and I found the most unusual wildflower. It was so dark it looked black, with 3 very long tendrels from the flower. I had picked the flower (it stuck pretty bad for a flower) and pressed it between a couple little boards i always brought along just incase for flowers I wanted to identify later. It turned out to be a wild ginger. Pretty cool!
Sissy... I do have maybe half sun on the hill, mostly shade elsewhere.
GGG... yah, gingers often smell bad (pollinated by beetles crwaling along the ground looking for something dead). Your ginger was probably A. caudatum.
Don - I'm only seeing two pictures here...
Wild ginger flowers are often given short shrift because their flowers are hidden or down facing. I'm glad to see photos of your unusual ones with the flowers visible. Great collection.
Sally... the third picture is below
(posted seperately)
Ki... yah, they are just too hidden for most gardeners, but that's part of their charm to me.
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