Canadian Wildginger (Canadense)

The Canadian Wildginger (Canadense) is generally described as a perennial forb/herb. This is native to the U.S. (United States) .

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Ethnobotanic: The Abnaki used a decoction of the plant in combination with another plant for the treatment of colds. The Ojibwe used the roots of this plant as an appetizer by putting it in any food as it was being cooked. It was also used for indigestion. The Iroquois used the roots to treat scarlet fever, colds, urinary disorders, and headaches. The Cherokee used the plant for a wide variety of medicinal purposes. The roots were used to treat coughs, colds, heart trouble, and blood medicine. The Meskwaki used the roots for many things. The cooked root was put into the ear for earache or sore ears. When one could not eat certain things, this root was cooked with these foods and it rendered them palatable. Mud catfish were cooked with Canadian wildginger to improve its flavor. When the root was chewed and the fisherman used the spittle on the bait, it enabled him to catch catfish. The Menomini used the fresh or dried roots of Canadian wildginger as a mild stomachic. When the patient was weak or had a weak stomach and it might be fatal to eat something he craved, he was fed a part of this root. Whatever he wanted could then be eaten with impunity. The Micmac also used the root as a stomachic and to treat cramps. The Potawatomi used the root to flavor meat or fish and render otherwise inedible food, palatable.

Wildlife: Canadian wildginger is an alternate food source for the pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor).

General Characteristics

General: Birthwort Family (Aristolochiaceae). This herbaceous perennial is hairy, especially the petioles and calyx. The leaves are cordate-rotund to cordate-reniform, mostly 8-12 cm wide at anthesis, and larger at maturity. The solitary, red-brown flowers are 2-4 cm. They are short peduncled, arising between the pair of leaves. The fruit is capsular, opening irregularly. The seeds are large, ovoid, and wrinkled. The rhizome produces annually a pair of petiolate, broad, hairy leaves and these are deciduous at the end of the season.

Required Growing Conditions

For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site. This plant is found in rich woods, usually in colonies from New Brunswick and Quebec to Ontario and Minnesota, south to North Carolina, northern Alabama, and northern Louisiana.

General Upkeep and Control

ASCA11"Canadian milkvetch looks similar to some closely related poisonous locoweeds, so its use is not recommended unless positive identification can be made (Kindscher 1987). Many members of this genus contain a poison that affects cattle (Fielder 1975). They become affected with a sort of insanity, a slow poisoning that can cause death within a period of months or even a year or two (Ibid). "

Plant Basics
General Type Forb/herb
Growth Duration Perennial
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA