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Asarum caudatum

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Asarum caudatum (British Columbia wild ginger, western wild ginger, or long-tailed wild ginger) is native to rich moist forests of western North America from British Columbia to California and as far east as western Montana.

Asarum caudatum is an evergreen with flowers that develop from March to August.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The flowers are distinct hirsute (hairy) cup-shaped, that are brown-purple to green-yellow which terminate in three long gracefully curved lobes, often concealed by leaves. The long rhizomes give rise to persistent reniform (kidney/heart shaped) leaves. Leaves are found in colonies or clusters as the rhizome spreads, forming mats. <ref name=flora>Template:Cite book</ref> The leaves emit a ginger aroma when rubbed.<ref>US Forest Service Fire Ecology</ref>



Asarum caudatum comes from the Latin word "cauda" meaning tail. This refers to the tail-like shape of the flower's calyx.

Ecology and distribution

Asarum caudatum is found in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and western Montana in moist shaded environments. It is a typical herb found in the understory of mixed conifer forests under 2,200 feet and is often a dominant plant.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref> It reproduces rhizomatously, meaning many mats are formed by one clonal plant connected by a rhizome. Asarum caudatum can also reproduce sexually, with its seeds dispersed by ants. Their flowers are pollinated by flies. However cross-pollination is rare. Ants are attracted by a fatty appendage attached to the seed.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

The ants carry the entire package back to their colony. The seed is often dropped outside the nest once the ant realizes only the appendage is edible. Due to the costs of producing seeds with an appendage to attract ants, it is more energetically favorable for the plant to reproduce rhizomatously.

Other uses

Some describe using Asarum caudatum as a ginger substitute and as a tea with medicinal properties. Members of the family Aristolochiaceae contain aristolochic acid, which has been recognized as a carcinogen.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> In a study on its effects on fungus, Asarum caudatum had antifungal properties when tested against nine fungal species.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>


Asarum caudatum is not listed a species of concern. However the habitat in which it is native is threatened in some regions by logging and other land uses.



External links

  • This page was last modified on 22 February 2016, at 11:35.
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