fbpx European wild-ginger | The Morton Arboretum

European wild-ginger

Leaves of European wild-ginger.

European wild-ginger is a colonizing ground cover that looks similar to the native species, except for having smooth rather than hairy leaves.

Botanical name:

Asarum europaeum

All common names:

European wild-ginger, European wild ginger

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Ground cover,
  • Perennial

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Foundation,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border

Size Range:

  • Small plant (6-12 inches)

Light Exposure:

  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Wet sites,
  • Alkaline soil

Seasons of Interest:

  • early spring,
  • mid spring,
  • late spring,
  • early summer,
  • midsummer,
  • late summer,
  • early fall,
  • mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous,
  • Other

Shape or Form:

  • Creeping

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

More Information:

Size and Method of spreading

European wild-ginger is a relatively short plant, usually staying under 6 to 8 inches high.  It is a colonizing ground cover.  Colonizing ground covers produce underground stems that spread out horizontally and shallowly, produce roots and then send up new shoots.  These plants are strong growers and may have the potential to grow aggressively.

Plant Care

European wild-ginger grows best in partial to full shade and needs a consistent supply of moisture.

Disease, pests, and problems

No common problems other than slugs.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Tolerant of deer and black walnut toxicity.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to wooded areas in southern Europe.

Leaf description

The leaves arise from the base of the plant (basal).  They are heart-shaped with entire margins.  In mild winters, the foliage may be semi-evergreen.

Flower description

Flowers of wild-ginger are often overlooked as they are held below the foliage and are brownish-purple in color.  The small flowers are produced in spring and have three triangular sepals that curl backward.

Fruit description

The fruit is a capsule; not ornamentally important.

Location of Asarum europaeum (European wild-ginger) at the Arboretum

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.