With attractive foliage, exotic, hooded flowers and pungent roots with a scent reminiscent of ginger, this groundcover plant lights up shady spots like our Peat Terraces at Harlow Carr.
- Common name
- Wild ginger, asarabacca
- Height & spread
- 8cm (3in) tall to 30cm (12in) wide
- Evergreen perennial
- Moderately fertile humus-rich, moist, well drained
- Partial to full shade
- Hardy throughout the British Isles
This genus of about 80 species of mainly evergreen low-growing perennials are from woodlands of Europe, E. Asia and North America. They have large, sometimes marbled leaves with pitcher-shaped flowers that have what could be described as a 'fragrance attractive only to flies'! These plants spread by rhizomes which are aromatic, smelling like ginger, hence the common name.
This species, from Europe, forms attractive carpets of kidney-shaped, glossy, dark green leaves 5-8cm (2-3in) long. Concealed behind these leaves in late spring are small, bell-shaped, greenish purple exotic-looking flowers.
This low, spreading plant makes excellent ground cover in shady places where few other plants thrive.
- Grow in partial or full shade in moderately fertile, humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil.
- Sow seed in containers in a cold frame as soon as ripe.
- Divide in early spring.
The RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee awarded Asarum europaeum an Award of Garden Merit in 2007 and described it as:
'tolerates lime; lights up a dark corner; long season of good foliage; bold leaf contrasts well with small ferns; good for ground cover.'