Western wild ginger keeps rust-brown flowers hidden under its foliage in the wintertime. (Richie Steffen)

Western wild ginger keeps rust-brown flowers hidden under its foliage in the wintertime. (Richie Steffen)

Great Plant Pick: Asarum caudatum aka western wild ginger

This wild ginger keeps rust-brown flowers hidden under its foilage in the wintertime.

What: This Pacific Northwest native is tops for the garden. Western wild ginger’s bold, heart-shaped leaves are fully evergreen and release a spicy, ginger-and-citrus fragrance when crushed. Asarum caudatum grows as an understory plant in our forests, so it is accustomed to dry, shady locations. Be sure to peek beneath the foliage in late winter to see the unusual, triangular, rust-brown flowers. This is one of the few wild gingers that have a fair degree of slug resistance.

Where: Western wild ginger is an adaptable plant that can be grown in dry or moist locations in open to deep shade. Foliage burns on plants grown in too much sun.

Size: This evergreen grows to be 6 inches tall and spreading to 18 inches wide when mature.

Care: Occasional watering during dry periods will keep the foliage looking fresh. Well-established plants are completely drought tolerant. but may have limp leaves that will perk up with autumn rain. Be patient with newly planted Asarum — as with many perennials, it often takes a year for new plants to settle in and grow nicely.

— Richie Steffen, Great Plant Picks

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