Wild Ginger

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Wild Ginger, BC Coastal Region
Wild Ginger, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

Wild ginger is a native North American perennial found growing in moist rich soils in shady woodlands on the Coast. It prefers a rich moist neutral to acidic soil in a shady woodland setting. It grows up by Buttle Lake, along the Ralph River.

The large heart or kidney-shaped leaves are hairy, dark green and deeply indented at the stem they grow in opposite pairs to a height of up to 30cm. Deep bowl-shaped flowers grow at the base, between the leaf stems, it is single short-stemmed and hairy outside and seems to split open into three outwardly folded petals, flowers bloom from March to May.

The root is a long rhizome, it is light green and tender, when crushed it has a strong antiseptic smell. As its name indicates, wild ginger tastes like the Asian ginger found in grocery stores. However, it is more bitter and therefore judged unpleasant by some. It is eaten raw, dried or powdered.

An aromatic oil is extracted from wild ginger and used in recipes. Many claim that it is best in candied form. The syrup obtained during the preserving process is delicious on pie or ice cream.

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