About Wild Ginger: This native woodland plant was formally published in Carl Linnaeus’ 1753 publication, Species Plantarum, with the note that it grew in Canada. Its low flowers nestle below the leaves at ground level, and attract pollinating insects with their slight odor. European herb gardens often included this plant, and herbal remedies of the 17th century sometimes used the root for various digestive complaints. Upon discovering this plant, early settlers of North America named it after the ginger plant that they knew from their homeland; wild ginger, however, comes from a different plant family than culinary ginger. Because of its similarity in taste, wild ginger became useful as a spice; settlers often candied or dried the root, making sweet syrup or confections from it. Modern science has found, however, that wild ginger contains potentially poisonous substances and should not be used internally.
Wild Ginger Germination: To break this seed's dormancy, mix it with moist sand and store it in an 80 degrees F location for 60-90 days, followed by 60-90 days in the refrigerator. For fall planting, only the warm period is needed since the winter will provide the necessary cool period. Direct sow the treated seed in spring, sowing the seeds 10” apart just below the surface and keeping the soil moist until germination. If the soil dries out, germination will be greatly reduced or delayed. Wild Ginger prefers moist but well drained soil and shade.
Growing Wild Ginger Seeds: This plant grows very slowly, though once established it is a hardy and low maintenance plant. Over time, it spreads by rhizomes and will form a colony; rooted cuttings from mature plants will produce new plants fairly quickly. Though it tolerates some drought, it grows best if watered occasionally. A mulch of leaves will help conserve moisture and improve the soil. This plant makes an excellent low ground cover for woodland or shaded areas. The foliage attracts butterflies, especially the Pipevine Swallowtail; it also resists deer.
Harvesting Wild Ginger: This plant should not be used internally, since it contains substances that can be poisonous. The leaves can be irritating to the skin.
Saving Wild Ginger Seeds: The oval gray seeds will form in the base of the flower, after it has wilted and become hidden under the leaves. Remove the wilted flower heads and open them to find the seeds. Plant them immediately, or store them in moist sand in the refrigerator until planting.
Detailed Wild Ginger Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Canadian Wild Ginger Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Spring-Early Summer Height: 4-6 inches Spacing: 9-12 inches Light: Partial Shade to Full Shade Soil Moisture: Medium to Moist USDA Zone: 2a-8b Seeds Per Oz: 4,400 Produces dark green, heart shaped foliage and a hairy, bell-shaped, 1-2” flower with three pointed maroon lobes.