SPECIES: Asarum caudatum
Robert Potts © California Academy of Sciences
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION:
Gucker, Corey L. 2004. Asarum caudatum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: www.fs.fed.us/database/feis .
NRCS PLANT CODE :
British Columbia wildginger
The scientific name of wild ginger is Asarum caudatum Lindl. (Aristolochiaceae) [25,26,29,33,36,45,47]. Accepted varieties are:
Asarum caudatum var. caudatum, wild ginger or British Columbia
Asarum caudatum Lindl. var. viridiflorum M.E. Peck , longtail wildginger
In this review, the common name wild ginger will refer to both varieties (caudatum
and viridiflorum). Longtail wildginger will refer only to the
viridiflorum variety. When literature is cited that refers to wild ginger by
genus only and does not specify species it will be indicated as (Asarum
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:
Shrub and subshrub species commonly found with wild ginger include: baldhip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa), big huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum), Rocky Mountain maple (Acer glabrum), twinflower (Linnaea borealis) and Oregon boxwood (Paxistima myrsinites). Forbs commonly associated with wild ginger include: ladyfern (Athyrium filix-femina), devilsclub (Oplopanax horridus), queencup beadlily (Clintonia uniflora), pioneer violet (Viola glabella), western sword fern (Polystichum munitum), oak fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris), Idaho goldthread (Coptis occidentalis), drops of gold (Disporum hookeri), American trailplant (Adenocaulon bicolor), and threeleaf foamflower (Tiarella trifoliata) [14,32,38,44].
Wild ginger is recognized as a dominant species in many vegetation classifications including:
Western regions: 
Wild ginger is a short-statured, native perennial that is considered
evergreen in most of its range. Wild ginger produces slender, elongate, shallow
rhizomes that allow for a spreading to highly-matted growth form. The heart- or
kidney-shaped leaves occur 2 per node and measure 1.5 to 4 inches (4 -10 cm)
long by up to 6 inches (15 cm) wide. A ginger odor is released through
rubbing or crushing the leaves. Fruits are capsules containing several seeds. Seeds
have a fleshy appendage and are dispersed by ants. Wild ginger produces rhizomes
that grow to just 0.7 inches (18 mm) long [10,20,26,27,34,48]. Cates  indicates
that 2 wild ginger morphological types exist. One type flowers earlier, produces more
seeds and tends to be found on wetter sites while the other type flowers later,
produces less seed, and often occupies drier sites.
RAUNKIAER  LIFE FORM:
Wild ginger produces rhizomes and seeds and both are a means of reproduction. Muir  found that asexual reproduction was less costly to wild ginger (Asarum spp.) than sexual reproduction. Reproducing sexually requires that energy be transferred from growth and nutrient storage to flower and seed production .
Breeding system: Wild ginger flowers are both perfect and protogynous . Autogamy is predominant .
Pollination: Cross-pollination was found to be rare in northern California populations and was thought to be due to the lack of nectar and fragrance produced by wild ginger flowers .
Seed production: The fruit capsules of wild ginger (Asarum spp.) begin dropping seeds in early summer .
Seed dispersal: The appendage of wild ginger seed is rich in an ant-attracting oil . Ants carry the seed to their nests, feed on the seed appendages, discard the seed in piles, and effectively disperse wild ginger seed.
Seed banking: No information is available on this topic.
Germination: No information is available on this topic.
Seedling establishment/growth: Wild ginger has been described as slow growing 
Wild ginger has rhizomes and often forms mats of vegetation [27,48]. Sprouting
from rhizomes in relation to disturbance was not discussed in the literature.
Wild ginger occupies moist, shady woodlands of low- to mid-montane regions [27,32,34].
Climate: The winter climate where wild ginger occurs has been described as mild; temperatures are normally 15 to 25° F (8-14° C) . Precipitation falls predominantly in the winter and spring months as rain or deep snow at the higher elevations, and humidity levels are typically high. Summers months are dry; July and August normally receive less than 1 inch (25 mm) of rainfall for the month. Dry thunderstorms are more common during these times .
Soils: Silt to loam soils are described for most habitat types characterized by wild ginger . Depths from 8 to 73 inches (20-185 cm) were reported and pH ranged from 4.5 to 7.1.
Oregon and Washington: Wild ginger is common within the Douglas-fir-western white pine communities of the Blue Mountains. These communities occur from 4,921 to 6,562 feet (1,500-2,000 m) elevation and receive on average 25 to 45 inches (635-1,140 mm) of precipitation annually . The western hemlock/wild ginger plant association occurs at low to moderate elevations (2,200 to 3,400 feet (670-1,036 m)), on north, west, and southwest aspects with moderate slopes (1-57%). Western hemlock/vine maple (Acer circinatum) /wild ginger plant associations occur between 2,140 and 2,730 feet (652-832 m) elevation, on most aspects with 1-48% slope, and on less moist soils than western hemlock/wild ginger .
Northern Idaho: The western hemlock/wild ginger habitat type,
considered the most productive of the western hemlock areas, can be found on any
slope or landform from 2,200 to 5,000 feet (670-1,520 m) . Western
redcedar/wild ginger habitat types are considered highly productive and occur
on all aspects and landforms, primarily occupying moderate slopes (8-25 degrees)
between 2,200 and 5,200 ft (670-1,590 m). Within cedar-hemlock forests, wild ginger
occurred with higher frequency when tree cover was greater than 41% than when tree
cover was less than 10% and had significantly higher frequency when shrub cover was
less than 30% . The grand fir/wild ginger habitat type occurs at elevations as
low as 4,200 feet (1,280 m) and as high as 6,000 feet (1,829 m) [14,18]. The Pacific
yew/wild ginger habitat type occurs on warmer sites and on shallower soils than the
grand fir/wild ginger habitat type
Wild ginger can be present in most successional communities. This species was the most dominant forb species in 80+ year old stands of spruce-fir forests of northern Idaho [53,54]. Wild ginger has been described as shade tolerant [27,34,48] and as a climax species by some [29,45].
The available literature suggests that wild ginger is commonly absent from
very early seral communities. Wild ginger is rarely found in clearcut
areas of northern Idaho conifer forests , suggesting an intolerance
of very early seral conditions. It is also common to find wild ginger associated with
western larch and western white pine, both of which are present in a variety of
seral stages [22,23]. Researchers  attempted to determine
successional pathways within the grand fir/wild ginger habitat type following a
variety of disturbances. Areas that had been clearcut and broadcast burned
producing mid- to high-severity fires were not colonized by wild ginger until
after progressing through the herbaceous structural stage. In some areas
following the same treatments, wild ginger was not present until the community
had progressed through the sapling or pole stage of development. Yet, when areas
were burned in low- to mid-severity wildfires and the overstory community
remained intact, wild ginger persisted . This suggests wild ginger
is present in those seral stages that contain some overstory canopy but is not a
In low elevation sites of northern California, the wild ginger flowering season was late February to June . In Oregon flowering was later, occurring from April to July .
Fire regimes: The fire regime for wild ginger is dictated by the overstory community. Prior to 1900, grand fir communities are characterized as having mixed and stand-replacing fire regimes . Smith  highlights the extreme variation within grand fir habitat types. This includes frequent fires that create persistent shrub communities and areas where no evidence of past fire has been located . Western hemlock/wild ginger habitat types experienced infrequent, high-severity fires at 100 to 200 year intervals . Presettlement fire regimes in northern Idaho for the western redcedar and western hemlock/wild ginger habitat types have been described as stand replacing with long fire return intervals that have been attributed to the moist understory conditions and the build-up of continuous fuels . However, small understory burns have been described as well.
The following list provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where wild ginger may be found. It may not be inclusive. Find further fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes".
|Community or Ecosystem||Dominant Species||Fire Return Interval Range (years)|
|silver fir-Douglas-fir||Abies amabilis-Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii||> 200|
|grand fir||Abies grandis||35-200 |
|tamarack||Larix laricina||35-200 |
|western larch||Larix occidentalis||25-350 [4,8,16]|
|western white pine*||Pinus monticola||50-200|
|Pacific ponderosa pine*||Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa||1-47 |
|interior ponderosa pine*||Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum||2-30 [3,7,36]|
|Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir*||Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca||25-100 [3,5,6]|
|coastal Douglas-fir*||Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii||40-240 [3,41,50]|
|California mixed evergreen||Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii-Lithocarpus densiflorus-Arbutus menziesii||< 35 |
|redwood||Sequoia sempervirens||5-200 [3,19,62]|
|western redcedar-western hemlock||Thuja plicata-Tsuga heterophylla||> 200|
|western hemlock-Sitka spruce||Tsuga heterophylla-Picea sitchensis||> 200|
|mountain hemlock*||Tsuga mertensiana||35 to > 200 |
The 1st year following a high-severity, stand-replacing fire in northern Idaho
forests, wild ginger was found on just 1 of 21 postburn plots . The wild
ginger found was a seedling and did not flower that 1st postburn year . In a
study designed to determine successional pathways following disturbance within
the grand fir/wild ginger habitat type, wild ginger was found in all but the
earliest seral communities following fire and clearcutting that produce fires
of varying severities .
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:
No additional information is available on this topic.
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
No additional information is available on this topic.
Western hemlock/wild ginger sites do not provide for livestock grazing; just 50 lbs/acre of herbage is produced annually .
Palatability/nutritional value: Wild ginger is palatable to slugs .
Cover value: No information is available on this topic.VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:
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