Asarum europaeum – Asarabacca
Shining evergreen foliage interest for moist shade where creeping rooting stems form loose ground cover. Curious fly pollinated flowers appear in spring. Asarum europaeum – Asarabacca – may not be the most showy but everything about it cries out class. The leaves are a lovely glossy deep green and evenly rounded, the perfect counterpart to filigree plants like Maidenhair ferns. It will grow in dry shaded locations where it will make good groundcover and if you care to lower your nose to it you’ll catch a rich spicy aroma. It is certainly one of my favourites. CAUTION. All parts of this plant are poisonous.
All of the members of this family are chiefly foliage plants, the curious flowers occurring at ground level. The flowers are fly pollinated and hence have no need to be showy, relying on smell as an attractant. They are plants of the woodland floor and occur on both coasts of North America as well as in the Orient.
Asarum canadense bears the name Wild Ginger, on account of the dried roots substituting for ginger. However, caution should be applied as all parts of Asarum europaeum are very poisonous.
The flowers have a 3 point symmetry and can bear long whip like tails. EA Bowles described the flowers of Asarum shuttleworthii as a ‘buttonhole suitable for the devil.’
Asarum europaeum can be found wild in Britain in Westmorland and the North.
Asarabacca, Hazelwort, Wild Nart – Asarum europaeum (Asarabacca is a combination of the Greek and Lydian names ‘asaron’ and ‘bakkar’
Wild Ginger, Canada Snakeroot, Indian Ginger, Coltsfoot – Asarum canadense