Wild Ginger and CA Dutchman’s Pipe

The Aristolochiaceae is a very interesting family. To me the two most well known members of this family are both growing in my back yard right now. Both of them have extremely fascinating flowers. I’ve tried to give you a glimpse of what they look like here. Both are very unique and unusual. I like that a lot about them. And they’re also useful.

The first is the Wild Ginger, or Asarum caudatum. It grows wild in the wet forests of the Pacific Northwest and there’s also a related species called Asarum canadensis that grows in the middle of the country and north into Canada, as the name implies. Dan Riegler at Apothecary’s Garden has some great recipes on how to make wild ginger candy. You can see his recipe for his candied Ginger here: http://apothecarysgarden.com/recipes-2/candied-wild-ginger-a-recipe-from-fresh/.

My patch doesn’t look that great right now at the end of winter and is just starting to put on new growth. The flowers can barely be seen in a couple of these shots and you can see how very weird they look. I love the deep burgundy color and the “wings” it has on the sides of the flowers. I’m not sure what they’re called but they look cool to me.

The other notable plant in this family is the California Dutchman’s Pipe. I showed it earlier when it was just starting to bud out and promised I’d show it in bloom, so here it is. I’ve tried to get shots of the whole vine in one picture with others of a closeup of the flowers themselves. They’re quite interesting and unique aren’t they? They really do look like a pipe don’t they?

They call it insectivorous even tho they don’t actually eat insects. They do entice them to crawl down into the flowers tho and pollinate them and then they release the bugs to go on their way. A very civilized system of pollination I’d say. These grow as tremendous vines in wetlands in California. I’ve seen them there and their swamps are very cool and weird too. They can cover large areas and I saw a particular place in their range where the Forest Service had built a walkway over the water so we could walk among them. Very cool.

So that’s it. A simple post for a change. Just wanted to show these extraordinary plants while they were in bloom and looking good. I don’t have enough ginger to really try Dan’s recipe yet but some day I hope to be able to. It sounds too good to miss out on and having unusual foods in my own garden is really wonderful. I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini tour of some unusual plants.

Happy gardening!

Steve

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26 responses to this post.

  1. None of your posts are ever simple. They are always informative and easy to understand by the non-gardeners. πŸ™‚ And lovely pictures too.
    Put that in your pipe…….

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  2. I enjoy this “simple” post, with a visit to two special plants. In the ginger flower photo, and those the ginger-plant stems, those long ones to the right?

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    • Yes they are the stems. I did a pretty poor job of whacking them off but they were taking over my Daphne! They’re coming back out now as you can see by the left of the flower. I’m glad you enjoyed this post.
      Thanks for visiting me,
      Steve

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  3. Posted by Cedar on April 2, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    What interesting flowers……thank you for this post.

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  4. ohhhh..I am so excited to see if My “dutchman pipe’ survived the winter. I have wanted to get this going for a few years. I purchased some plants last year, but the drought may of nipped them as well as something nibbling on the in the garden. I sure hope they survive. Don’t they attract the swallow tail or maybe it was a different one. I will get new plants if they don’t survive…yours look so neat! The wild ginger looks interesting ,too…candy from it! hmmmm where can I tuck that in:-) p.s. I knew we were kindred spirits, I love your bamboo fence! I enjoy the bamboo as a backdrop to some of my gardens:-)

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    • Hi Robbie, I hope your Dutchman’s Pipe makes it thru the winter too. Mine is going on 4 years now from a liner, and it’s really blooming up a storm this year. Some of the flowers are so tiny and others so large it’s amazing. Yes they do attract the Swallowtail butterfly but I don’t think we have them around here. At least I haven’t seen any. The ginger is a wonderful plant but it tends to spread petty well so give ti more room than I did πŸ˜‰ I wish I had enough to make Dan’s candied ginger recipe. That’d be cool! I’m glad you like the bamboo fence too. We love it and as a backdrop for the plants it can’t be beat. It looks so organic and natural.
      Thanks for all your comments,
      peace,
      Steve

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      • I’ll keep you posted on my Dutchman Pipes. Does it come out early spring? Sorry to ask so many questons, I really want it to grow here. You have it on a bamboo fence, so do I-tee hee

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        • Yes they come out early. Mine is in full bloom right now and had buds bursting for a month or more. I really hope yours is able to grow on your bamboo fence. They look really nice on the bamboo! And they Love a lot of water too btw… so keep it damp. πŸ˜‰
          peace,
          Steve

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  5. Nice post Steve! Love you Dutchman’s Pipe! We have a native Dutchman’s Pipe here in the Appalachian’s, Aristolochia macrophylla, which as you can guess by the name, has large leaves so the flower is usually hidden by them! πŸ™‚ But I guess the caterpillars love to eat the leaves, so I guess the plant has adapted to it’s role in nature and is being hospitable to it’s guest. πŸ™‚ I’ve always wanted to try growing ginger, but sadly we are in too cold a climate. Yours are awesome. We used to get them at the garden center and I was so tempted to purchase one and bring it home with me, but I’m not a big fan of having house plants, so I behaved myself and held back. I’ll just be content with admiring yours. πŸ™‚

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    • Thanks Annie. That’s cool you have another species where you are. I didn’t know about it. Too bad the leaves cover the flowers cause they’re so interesting. It’s so cool how we learn about new plants from each other isn’t it? I love these “backyard” chats we have.;) I love the ginger too and am lucky we can grow it here. It’s native in the mountains here so it’s no surprise we can do it here in the lowlands. Check out Dan’s post on Candied ginger too. He has some good pictures of ginger in the wild, the hardier form… It’s a cool post he did.
      Thanks for visiting me!
      peace,
      Steve

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  6. So interesting! I have both these plants in my garden although the hardy Canadian kind. I read the flowers of the wild ginger evolved to attract spring emerging flies looking for carrion – not very romantic – but I love this plant and it’s unique flowers. I have yet to see my Dutchman’s Pipe flower – the leaves are so dense that I will have to look in close this year. I find it curious that you have so many flowers on yours and barely a leaf! I love the large heart-shaped leaves – one of my absolute favorites! I still have snow covering most of the garden. It’s been a trying, long wait this Spring.

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    • That’s great you have both of these in your garden too, Kathy. I didn’t know the ginger had evolved like the Dutchman’s pipe to attract carrion and insects. It’s a weird family isn’t it? Pretty cool tho. I’ve always had more flowers on my Dutchman’s pipe than leaves it seems, tho later on the leaves are predominate. I’ve never seen so many blooms on it at once before tho so it’s growing well. It started out as a simple little twig I didn’t think would even grow, but it sure likes it where I have it with lots of water. I wish you the best of luck with yours and hope it blooms so that you can see it this year. πŸ˜‰
      all the best,
      Steve

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  7. Posted by The Editors of Garden Variety on April 3, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Very unusual looking plants but that is why I find them intriguing.

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  8. Steve, whether complex or simple, your posts are rich with information–so … to me, it don’t matter. πŸ™‚ Your garden is springing! I’m going to try growing ginger. You have inspired me to begin gardening. Can’t promise I will succeed. lol. Thank you for sharing… XXOO πŸ™‚

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    • I think ginger is a great plant to grow. I’ve done it in the past and it’s a cool thing. Not too hard to do either. Thanks for your visit and I wish you all the best in your new gardening efforts! πŸ™‚
      cheers,
      Steve

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  9. Thanks for the thorough information you provide us here. Your blog is outstanding.
    Best wishes, Aquileana πŸ™‚

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