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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Magnoliids
Ordo: Piperales

Familia: Aristolochiaceae
Subfamilia: Asaroideae
Genus: Asarum
Subgenera: A. subg. Asarum – A. subg. Geotaenium – A. subg. Heterotropa
Overview of species

A. ampulliflorum – A. arifolium – A. asaroides – A. asperum – A. balansae – A. blumei – A. campaniflorum – A. canadense – A. caucasicum – A. caudatum – A. caudigerellum – A. caudigerum – A. caulescens – A. celsum – A. chatienshanianum – A. chengkouense – A. chinense – A. chueyi – A. constrictum – A. contractum – A. cordifolium – A. costatum – A. crassum – A. crassusepalum – A. crispulatum – A. curvistigma – A. debile – A. delavayi – A. dilatatum – A. dissitum – A. epigynum – A. europaeum – A. fauriei – A. forbesii – A. fukienense – A. gelasinum – A. geophilum – A. glabrum – A. gusk – A. hartwegii – A. hatushimae – A. heterophyllum – A. heterotropoides – A. hexalobum – A. himalaicum – A. hongkongense – A. hypogynum – A. ichangense – A. ikegamii – A. inflatum – A. insigne – A. kinoshitae – A. kiusianum – A. kumageanum – A. kurosawae – A. lemmonii – A. leucosepalum – A. lewisii – A. longirhizomatosum – A. macranthum – A. magnificum – A. majale – A. marmoratum – A. maruyamae – A. maximum – A. megacalyx – A. mikuniense – A. minamitanianum – A. minor – A. mitoanum – A. monodoriflorum – A. muramatsui – A. nanchuanense – A. naniflorum – A. nazeanum – A. nipponicum – A. nobilissimum – A. nomadakense – A. okinawense – A. parviflorum – A. pellucidum – A. perfectum – A. petelotii – A. porphyronotum – A. pulchellum – A. renicordatum – A. reticulatum – A. rhombiforme – A. rigescens – A. rosei – A. sagittarioides – A. sakawanum – A. satsumense – A. savatieri – A. senkakuinsulare – A. shuttleworthii – A. sieboldii – A. simile – A. speciosum – A. splendens – A. subglobosum – A. tabatanum – A. taipingshanianum – A. tamaense – A. tawushanianum – A. tohokuense – A. tokarense – A. tongjiangense – A. trigynum – A. trinacriforme – A. unzen – A. variegatum – A. villisepalum – A. virginicum – A. viridiflorum – A. wagneri – A. wulingense – A. yaeyamense – A. yakusimense – A. yamashiroi – A. yoshikawae – A. yunnanense

Asarum L., Sp. Pl. 1: 441 (1753); Gen. Pl., ed. 5: 201 (1754).

Lectotype species: A. europaeum L., designated by N.L. Britton & A. Brown, Ill. Fl. N.U.S. ed. 2. 1: 642. 7 Jun 1913, supported by M.L. Green, Prop. Brit. Bot. 157. Aug 1929)


Hexastylis Raf., Neogenyton 3 (1825).
Type species: Hexastylis arifolium Michx., Fl. Bor.-Amer. 1: 279 (1803).
Heterotropa C.Morren & Decne., Ann. Sci. Nat., Bot. ser. 2. 2: 314 (1834).
Type species: H. asaroides C.Morren & Decne.
Homotropa Shuttlew. ex Small, Mem. Torrey Bot. Club 2: 11 (1893), nom. illeg.
Asiasarum F.Maek., Fl. Sylv. Kor. (Nakai) 21: 17 (1936).
Type species: A. sieboldii (Miq.) F.Maek.
Japonasarum Nakai, Fl. Sylv. Kor. 21: 16 (1936).
Type species: J. caulescens (Maxim.) Nakai
Geotaenium F.Maek., Proc. VII Pacific Sci. Congr. 5: 217 (1953).
Type species: G. epigynum (Hayata) F.Maek.

Note: Species list includes combinations derived from Hexastylis Raf., which is sometimes still found segregated.

Asarum Archila, Revista Guatemalensis 18(1): 31 (2015), nom. illeg. - vide: Dendrobium Sw., Nova Acta Regiae Soc. Sci. Upsal. 6: 82 (1799), nom. cons.

Primary references

Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum. Tomus I: 442. Reference page.
Linnaeus, C. 1754. Genera Plantarum, ed. 5: 201. Reference page.

Additional references

{Britton & Brown, 1913|1|642}}
Hitchcock, A.S. & Green, M.L. 1929. Standard species of Linnaean genera of Phanerogamae (1753–1754). pp. 111–195 in International Botanical Congress. Cambridge (England), 1930. Nomenclature. Proposals by British Botanists. His Majesty's Stationery Office, London. Biblioteca Digital Reference page.
Sinn, B.T., Kelly, L.M. & Freudenstein, J.V. 2015. Phylogenetic relationships in Asarum: effect of data partitioning and a revised classification. American Journal of Botany 102(5): 765-779. DOI: 10.3732/ajb.1400316 PDF Reference page.
Sinn, B.T., Daragan, C., Freudenstein, J.V. & Barrett, C.F. 2018. Phylogenomics in Asarum section Hexastylis: serial innovations in floral form spawned from two geographically-widespread species. Proceedings of the West Virginia Academy of Science 90(1). PDF Reference page.
Takahashi, D. & Setoguchi, H. 2018. Molecular phylogeny and taxonomic implications of Asarum (Aristolochiaceae) based on ITS and matK sequences. Plant Species Biology 33(1): 28-41. DOI: 10.1111/1442-1984.12189 PDF from ResearchGate Reference page.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2019. Asarum in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2019 April 25. Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2018. Asarum. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2018. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2018 Dec. 30. Reference page. Segregates Hexastylis Raf.
International Plant Names Index. 2018. Asarum. Published online. Accessed: Dec. 30 2018.
The Plant List 2013. Asarum in The Plant List Version 1.1. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2018 Dec. 30. 2018. Asarum. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2018 Dec. 30.
Farr, E.R. & Zijlstra, G. (eds.) 1996 onwards. Asarum in Index Nominum Genericorum (Plantarum). Accessed: 2020 Jun 22.

Vernacular names

العربية: أسارون
azərbaycanca: Çobandüdüyü
čeština: Kopytník
dansk: Hasselurt
Deutsch: Haselwurzen
English: Wild ginger
eesti: Metspipar
فارسی: آساروم
suomi: Taponlehdet
français: Asaret
hornjoserbsce: Smólnik
magyar: Kapotnyak
日本語: カンアオイ属
ქართული: ხარისჩლიქა
қазақша: Тайтұяқ
한국어: 족도리풀속
lietuvių: Pipirlapė
македонски: Копитник
polski: Kopytnik
русский: Копытень
slovenčina: Kopytník
svenska: Hasselörtssläktet
українська: Копитняк
Tiếng Việt: Chi Tế tân
中文: 细辛属

Asarum is a genus of plants in the birthwort family Aristolochiaceae, commonly known as wild ginger.

Asarum is the genitive plural of the Latin āsa (an alternate form of āra) meaning altar or sanctuary.


Asarum is a genus of low-growing herbs distributed across the temperate zones of the Northern Hemisphere, with most species in East Asia (China, Japan, and Vietnam) and North America, and one species in Europe. Biogeographically, Asarum originated in Asia.

They have characteristic kidney-shaped leaves, growing from creeping rhizomes, and bear small, axillary, brown or reddish flowers.

The plant is called wild ginger because the rhizome tastes and smells similar to ginger root, but the two are not particularly related. The FDA warns against consuming Asarum, as it is nephrotoxic and contains the potent carcinogen aristolochic acid.[1][2] [3] The birthwort family also contains the genus Aristolochia, known for carcinogens.

Wild ginger favors moist, shaded sites with humus-rich soil. The deciduous, heart-shaped leaves are opposite, and borne from the rhizome which lies just under the soil surface. Two leaves emerge each year from the growing tip. The curious jug-shaped flowers, which give the plant an alternate name, little jug, are borne singly in spring between the leaf bases.

Wild ginger can easily be grown in a shade garden, and makes an attractive groundcover.
Asarum europaeum flower

Traditionally, the genus Asarum was considered as a single genus with about 85 species. However, a trend exists among some botanists to segregate the genus into separate genera, based on considerations of chromosome number and floral morphology:

Asarum sensu stricto (about 17 species), distributed in Asia (mainly China), North America, and Europe
Heterotropa (about 50 species), distributed in Asia
Asiasarum (three or four species), distributed in Asia
Geotaenium (three or four species), distributed in Asia
Hexastylis (ten species), distributed in North America

Study of the internal transcribed spacer region (ITS) of nuclear ribosomal DNA, combined with morphological data, has yielded a better-resolved phylogenetic hypothesis, supporting a recognition of two subgenera, Asarum and Heterotropa each containing two sections, rather than the segregated genera above.[4]

Asarum sensu stricto (s.s.) : the North American species are monophyletic and are derived from within the paraphyletic Asian species group.
Geotaenium is a sister to Asarum s.s., showing its close relationship to Asarum s.s..
Asiasarum is a sister to the Hexastylis + Heterotropa clade, showing several synapomorphies with this clade.
Hexastylis: this genus has been recognized solely on the study by H.L. Blomquist.[5] However, the above-mentioned DNA study provided indications that Hexastylis is not monophyletic and that some species of Hexastylis are more closely related to Asiatic species of Heterotropa than they are to other species of Hexastylis.
Heterotropa: this is a complex monophyletic group, well nested within the Asiasarum + Hexastylis + Heterotropa clade

Therefore, many botanists still treat these segregated genera as subgenera and sections of Asarum sensu lato, especially Hexastylis.[6]

Asarum arifolium
Asarum asperum
Asarum bashanense
Asarum campaniflorum
Asarum canadense
Asarum caudatum
Asarum caudigerellum
Asarum caudigerum
Asarum caulescens
Asarum chengkouense
Asarum chinensis
Asarum controversum
Asarum crassisepalum
Asarum crassum
Asarum crispulatum
Asarum debile
Asarum delavayi
Asarum dimidiatum (synonym of Asiasarum dimidiatum)
Asarum epigynum (synonym of Geotaenium epigynum)
Asarum europaeum
Asarum forbesii (synonym of Heterotropa forbesii)
Asarum fukienense
Asarum geophilum (synonym of Geotaenium geophilum)
Asarum gusuk
Asarum hartwegii
Asarum hayatanum
Asarum heterotropioides (synonym of Asiasarum heterotropiodes)
Asarum himalaicum
Asarum hongkongense
Asarum hypogynum
Asarum ichangense
Asarum inflatum
Asarum insignis
Asarum kooyanum
Asarum lemmonii
Asarum leptophyllum
Asarum longerhizomatosum
Asarum macranthum
Asarum magnificum
Asarum majale
Asarum marmoratum
Asarum maruyamae
Asarum maximum
Asarum mikuniense
Asarum mitoanum
Asarum nanchuanense
Asarum nobilissimum
Asarum petelotii
Asarum porphyronotum
Asarum pulchellum
Asarum renicordatum
Asarum sagittarioides
Asarum senkakuinsulare
Asarum sieboldii (synonym of Asiasarum sieboldii)
Asarum splendens
Asarum taipingshanianum
Asarum tohokuense
Asarum tongjiangense
Asarum wagneri
Asarum wulingense
Asarum yunnanense (synonym of Geotaenium yunnanse)


Wild ginger can be cooked in the same fashion as ginger root, and can also be candied or used to make medicine.[7]

Schaneberg BT, Applequist WL, Khan IA (October 2002). "Determination of aristolochic acid I and II in North American species of Asarum and Aristolochia". Pharmazie. 57 (10): 686–9. PMID 12426949.
"Aristolochic Acid: FDA Warns Consumers to Discontinue Use of Botanical Products that Contain Aristolochic Acid". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. April 11, 2001.
Health Canada advising not to use products labelled to contain Aristolochia Archived February 16, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
Lawrence M. Kelley (1998). "Phylogenetic relationships in Asarum (Aristolochiaceae) based on morphology and ITS sequences". American Journal of Botany. 85 (10): 1454–67. doi:10.2307/2446402. JSTOR 2446402. PMID 21684897.
H.L. Blomquist (1957). "A revision of Hexastylis of North America". Brittonia. 8 (4): 255–281. doi:10.2307/2804978. JSTOR 2804978. S2CID 34632340.
"Hexastylis". USDA - GRIN. 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-14.
Angier, Bradford (1974). Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books. p. 238. ISBN 0-8117-0616-8. OCLC 799792.

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