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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Asarum is a parish in Sweden, located N56 12'20; E14 50' and since 1967 part of Karlshamn municipality.

Wild ginger leaves
(Asarum caudatum)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Magnoliids
Order: Piperales
Family: Aristolochiaceae
Genus: Asarum
See text

Asarum (Á-sa-rum) is a genus of plants in the birthwort family Aristolochiaceae, commonly known as Wild ginger.



Asarum consists low-growing herbs , that are distributed over the north temperate zones with most species in Asia (mainly China, Japan and Vietnam), North America and one species in Europe. Biogeographically, Asarum originated in Asia

They have characteristically kidney-shaped leaves, growing from creeping rhizomes. They bear small, axillary brown or reddish flowers.

Asarum canadense is native to the forests of eastern North America. It is found from the Great Plains east to the Atlantic Coast, and from southeastern Canada south to approximately the fall line in the southeastern United States.

Asarum caudatum is found in British Columbia south through Washington and Oregon to central California, and from the Coast Range east to western Montana.

The plant is called wild ginger because the rhizome tastes and smells similar to that of ginger root, but the two are not particularly related. The root can be used as a spice, but is a potent diuretic, or urinary stimulant. Asarum canadense and other species in the genus contain the nephrotoxic rodent carcinogen aristolochic acid, which is the FDA warns against consuming.[1][2] [3] The birthwort family also contains the genus Aristolochia, known for carcinogens.

Wild ginger favors moist, shaded sites with humus-rich soil. The deciduous, heart-shaped leaves are opposite, and borne from the rhizome which lies just under the soil surface. Two leaves emerge each year from the growing tip. The curious jug-shaped flowers, which give the plant an alternate name, little jug, are borne singly in Spring between the leaf bases.

Wild ginger can easily be grown in a shade garden, and makes an attractive groundcover.

European Wild Ginger (Asarum europaeum) - flower


Traditionally the genus Asarum was considered as a single genus with about 85 species. However there has been a trend among botanists to segregate the genus into separate genera, based on considerations of chromosome number and floral morphology :

  • Asarum s.s. (about 17 species), distributed in Asia (mainly China), North America and Europe
  • Heterotropa ( about 50 species), distributed in Asia
  • Asiasarum (3 to 4 species), distributed in Asia
  • Geotaenium (3 to 4 species), distributed in Asia
  • Hexastylis ( 8 to 9 species), distributed in North America

Study of the internal transcribed spacer region (ITS) of nuclear ribosomal DNA, combined with morphological data, have yielded a better-resolved phylogenetic hypothesis, confirming the existence of the above-named genera. [4]

  • Asarum s.s. : the North American species are monophyletic and are derived from within the paraphyletic Asian species group.
  • Geotaenium is a sister to Asarum s.s., showing its close relationship to Asarum s.s.
  • Asiasarum is a sister to the Hexastylis + Heterotropa clade, showing several synapomorphies with this clade
  • Hexastylis : this genus has been recognized solely on the study by H.L. Blomquist [5]. However the above-mentioned DNA study provided indications that Hexastylis is not monophyletic and that some species of Hexastylis are more closely related to Asiatic species of Heterotropa than they are to other species of Hexastylis.
  • Heterotropa : this is a complex monophyletic group, well nested within the Asiasarum + Hexastylis + Heterotropa clade

However, many botanists still treat these segregated genera as sections of Asarum s.l., especially Hexastylis [6]


  • Asarum arifolium
  • Asarum bashanense
  • Asarum campaniflorum
  • Asarum canadense
  • Asarum caudatum
  • Asarum caudigerellum
  • Asarum caudigerum
  • Asarum caulescens
  • Asarum chengkouense
  • Asarum chinensis
  • Asarum controversum
  • Asarum crassisepalum
  • Asarum crassum
  • Asarum crispulatum
  • Asarum debile
  • Asarum delavayi
  • Asarum dimidiatum (synonym of Asiasarum dimidiatum)
  • Asarum epigynum (synonym of Geotaenium epigynum)
  • Asarum europaeum
  • Asarum forbesii (synonym of Heterotropa forbesii)
  • Asarum fukienense
  • Asarum geophilum (synonym of Geotaenium geophilum)
  • Asarum gusuk
  • Asarum hartwegii
  • Asarum hayatanum
  • Asarum heterotropioides (synonym of Asiasarum heterotropiodes)
  • Asarum himalaicum
  • Asarum hongkongense
  • Asarum hypogynum
  • Asarum ichangense
  • Asarum inflatum
  • Asarum insignis
  • Asarum kooyanum
  • Asarum lemmonii
  • Asarum leptophyllum
  • Asarum longerhizomatosum
  • Asarum macranthum
  • Asarum magnificum
  • Asarum majale
  • Asarum marmoratum
  • Asarum maruyamae
  • Asarum maximum
  • Asarum mikuniense
  • Asarum mitoanum
  • Asarum nanchuanense
  • Asarum nobilissimum
  • Asarum petelotii
  • Asarum porphyronotum
  • Asarum pulchellum
  • Asarum renicordatum
  • Asarum sagittarioides
  • Asarum senkakuinsulare
  • Asarum sieboldii (synonym of Asiasarum sieboldii)
  • Asarum splendens
  • Asarum taipingshanianum
  • Asarum tohokuense
  • Asarum tongjiangense
  • Asarum wagneri
  • Asarum wulingense
  • Asarum yunnanense (synonym of Geotaenium yunnanse)

See also

  • Hexastylis, a closely related genus sometimes treated as synonymous with Asarum

External links


  1. ^ Schaneberg BT, Applequist WL, Khan IA (October 2002). "Determination of aristolochic acid I and II in North American species of Asarum and Aristolochia". Pharmazie 57 (10): 686–9. PMID 12426949.  
  2. ^ "Aristolochic Acid: FDA Warns Consumers to Discontinue Use of Botanical Products that Contain Aristolochic Acid". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. April 11, 2001.  
  3. ^ Health Canada advising not to use products labelled to contain Aristolochia.
  4. ^ *Lawrence M. Kelley (1998). "Phylogenetic relationships in Asarum (Aristolochiaceae) based on morphology and ITS sequences". American Journal of Botany 85 (10): 1454–67.  
  5. ^ H.L. Blomquist (1957). "A revision of Hexastylis of North America". Brittonia 8 (4): 255–281.  
  6. ^ "Hexastylis". USDA - GRIN. 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-14.  


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Ordo: Piperales
Familia: Aristolochiaceae
Subfamilia: Asaroideae
Genus: Asarum
Species: A. asaroides - A. canadense - A. caudatum -A. caudigerum - A. europaeum - A. forbesii - A. hartwegii -A. hayatanum - A. heterotropoides - A. lemmonii -A. macranthum - A. maculatum - A. marmoratum -A. nipponicum - A. petelotii - A. sieboldii - A. splendens ... and more


Asarum L.

Vernacular names

Dansk: Hasselurt
Deutsch: Haselwurz
English: Wild ginger
Français: Asaret
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Asarum on Wikimedia Commons.


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