Sheraya MartinBI 252L, W18009 March 2011TA: Shelley Mason
(Western Wild Ginger)
is an angiosperm native to Oregon and commonly known as western wild ginger orlong-tailed wild ginger. It is not a true ginger plant, but rather commonly named wild ginger due to itsspicy, ginger like smell. This plant is of the
family, and one of six species in the
genus. It is found in moist woodland environments, preferring acidic soil types. It is commonly initiallynoticed by its large, broad, heart shaped leaves, and secondarily by its relatively small and unique purple
flowers, referred to as Dutchmen’s Pipe flowers by the
Wild Ginger Farm in Oregon.The
has stem leaves that range from 2” –
, found in pairs at the apical node of each leaf stem. The stems and flower exteriors are covered in short but visible trichomes. Their flowers are apurple color, with a deep central well and long tail like extensions of the three petal lobes. The flower isproduced below the leaves, close to the ground. It releases an odor unattractive to the human olfactorysense, but extremely attractive to flies, the primary pollinator of the western wild ginger.Each flower contains male and female reproductive organs. The reproductive organs are low lying,protected in the well of the flower. After fertilization has occurred many seeds are released on to theground to be dispersed primarily by ants. The seed coat cells secret a unique ant attracting oil. An antwill take a seed back to its colony for food, consuming the seed appendages, then discarding the seeditself- thus efficiently increasing the habitat area of the western wild ginger (Gucker 2004). It isimportant to note that this plant has rhizomes, from which it can create new plants as another methodof reproduction.The western wild ginger habitat is in temperate woodland areas, with rich, moist and slightly acidic topsoil. They are a plant of the forest understory and thus prefer shaded areas, as provided by the branchesand leaves of taller plants, especially trees. In commercial and residential areas this plant is used as anaesthetic ground cover (Plant Oregon, The Nursery on Wager Creek 2011). The plant does best inmoderate to cold conditions, with the ability to withstand below freezing temperatures (Wild GingerFarm 2011), although not for long durations.
is a perennial plant. Seeds tend to germinate in the spring time, and flower in the latesummer. This makes the seeds an attractive food source to ants, since the seeds drop at a time whenthe availability of food is becoming scare and the colonies are preparing to stock pile foods for thewinter season.According to Plants For A Future the wild ginger can be used medicinally. While appropriate medicalguidance is suggested, it is noted that the whole plant is an analgesic. The root and leaves have beenknown to be made into tonics and teas, used to treat; gastrointestinal tract symptoms, headaches,boils, toothaches, colic, joint pain, and skin infections. It can also be used as a culinary ginger substitute.