Asarum canadense L.

Asarum canadense plant

Family - Aristolochiaceae

Stems - Subterrestrial horizontal rhizomes.

Leaves - Paired, arising from base of plant (rhizome), petiolate. Petiole to +15cm long, densely lanate with multicellular hairs. Blades cordate to reniform, to 15cm broad and long, entire, sericeous above with hairs on veins and near margins, densely pubescent below.

Inflorescence - Single flower from between leaf petioles. Peduncle to 3cm long, lanate, reddish-purple.

Flowers - Apetalous. Sepals 3, connate for 2/3 of length( about 1cm) into a campanulate tube, free portions to 2cm long, +/-1cm broad at base, abruptly acute to acuminate or apiculate at apex, spreading to reflexed, brownish-red in upper half, whitish below (internally), pubescent to densely lanate externally, persistent in fruit. Stamens 12. Anthers connivent with the styles. Styles 6, deep brownish-red. Ovary inferior, 6-locular. Placentation axile. Capsule many seeded.

Asarum canadense flowerFlower close-up.

Asarum canadense flower

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Wooded slopes, valleys, ravines, base of bluffs.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This little plant is probably the easiest to identify in the field. The cordate leaves and distinguishing flower make it simple to recognize.
The rhizomes of the plant were eaten heavily by natives and were believed to have medicinal properties.
The plant has been studied in cancer research.

Photographs taken at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, Boone County, MO., 4-11-04.


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