Asarabacca (Asarum europaeum)

Asarabacca (Asarum europaeum) is a species of wild ginger in the family Aristolochiaceae, usually grown as an ornamental but sometimes used as a spice or a flavoring. It is also known by the common names such as European Wild Ginger, Haselwort, and Wild Spikenard. Asarabacca has a wide distribution in Europe, from southern Finland and northern Russia, and south to southern France, Italy and the Republic of Macedonia.

Asarabacca occurs mostly in deciduous woodland or coniferous forests, especially in calcareous soils. The plant is shade-tolerant and is often planted as a ground cover in gardens. Its stems are 10-15 cm long, with petiolate and reniform (kidney-shaped) leaves of about 10 cm wide. In former days, it was used in snuff and also medicinally as an emetic and cathartic.

Asarabacca is a perennial plant with prostrate stems that bears 2 reniform leaves with long petioles. The upper surface of the leaves is shiny and they have a pepper-like taste and smell. The solitary, terminal and nodding flower is dark purple in the centre and brownish towards its end, and emerges in late winter and spring. Each flower has 12 stamens.

Asarabacca (Asarum europaeum)Asarabacca (Asarum europaeum)
Author: Daniel J. Layton (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Asarabacca (Asarum europaeum)Asarabacca (Asarum europaeum)
Author: Krzysztof Ziarnek (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Flower of Asarabacca (Asarum europaeum)Flower of Asarabacca (Asarum europaeum)
Author: Bernd Haynold (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

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