Jan. 31, 2017

wild ginger, Asarum canadense

This shy little plant trails along the forest floor and hides its flowers from us. I always feel like spring is official when I can get down on the ground, look under the leaves, and find some of these 3/4 inch flowers. Me, the beetles and now I've learned, the ants. I was browsing Linda Chafin's new Wildflowers of Georgia, and came across an item titled, "The skinny on fat bodies". It turns out the seeds have fat bodies attached that are ant food. The ants collect them and take them home. They then discard the seeds after they remove the fat bodies. There was an interesting list of spring ephemerals that use this collaborative process with ants. Wild ginger has stems that are very aromatic, and had been used for flavoring in pioneer times. They grow in AL, AR, CT, DE, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME(T), MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, VT, WI, WV, MB, NB, ON, and QC. Lenawee Co MI, 4/7/12