Monday, May 2, 2016

Wildflowers of Ainsworth: Wild Ginger

2016-5-2. Wild Ginger 1
(Click on images to enlarge)

I had been seeing colonies of these round-leaved plants on the forest floor in Deep River County Park, and thinking I'd identify them once they bloomed. At last it occurred to me that maybe I had better check for blooms under the leaves. And there they were.

2016-5-2. Wild Ginger 2

Ugly little things, aren't they? According to Jack Sanders, their ugliness serves a purpose: "An early bloomer, wild ginger attracts the types of early-spring flies and gnats that come out of the ground, looking for the thawing carcasses of animals that died over the winter. These flies are probably drawn to the flower by the dull red color, similar to carrion …."* He also says that wild ginger is not botanically related to the ginger you buy at the grocery store, but the roots have a similar taste.

2016-5-2. Wild Ginger 3

2016-5-2. Wild Ginger 4

*Jack Sanders, The Secrets of Wildflowers: A Delightful Feast of Little-Known Facts, Folklore, and History. Guilford: The Lyons Press, 2003.

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