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is this wild ginger? can I eat it? what species is it?

Posted by The_Alpha_Wolf_Rules North Carolina (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 9, 04 at 20:11

well, the title is self explenatory

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: is this wild ginger? can I eat it? what species is it?

The wild ginger around here has a rounder leaf and a maroon/brownish flower. Get a bit of basal stem or root piece and see if it is "gingerish".

RE: is this wild ginger? can I eat it? what species is it?

A species of Hexastylis. Does the crushed leaf have a strong sassafras like odor? Smells good but don't eat any of the wild gingers (Asarum/Hexastylis). Yes, people used to use them sometimes as a ginger substitute but they contain a liver toxin.

RE: is this wild ginger? can I eat it? what species is it?

If you don't recognize a plant and have to ask what it is, do not eat it. You need to get a good field guide with a key like Newcomb's before risking eating something.

The plant picture you posted does not look like Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense). Even it is, wild ginger is not related to the ginger(Zingiber officinale) found in grocery stores and is dangerous to eat. Although wild ginger is used in some herbal supplements it is known to cause cancer and kidney failure and deaths have resulted from its use.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures of Wild Ginger

RE: is this wild ginger? can I eat it? what species is it?

What you have pictured is a Hexastylis which used to be included in the genus Asarum I believe. The species/subspecies divisions are confusing to me. Most of these have a strong, pleasant odor in the leaf and they have fleshy roots but not a spreading rhizome like Asarum canadense. The later has fuzzy, rounded, essentially odorless leaves. All have been called wild ginger but A. canadense is what is usually referred to as wild ginger. Its rhizome was used as a flavoring. Hexastylis species are commonly called "little brown jugs" and are common in the woodlands of piedmont North Carolina. You'll see A. canadense in mountainous regions of North carolina. (I lived in NC years ago). Unfortunately not everything that tastes good or was used traditionally is safe to consume.

RE: is this wild ginger? can I eat it? what species is it?

I like the leaf a lot, I wouldn't eat it. I'd try to keep it for the foliage in my garden. cool pict

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