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Genus of the Week

Week of June 22-28

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This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of all available Web resources on a particular genus.
Visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes, a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family.

This week's genus:


Asarum


Subclass: Dicotyledoneae
Superorder: Magnoliidae
Order: Aristolochiales
Family: Aristolochiaceae - The Birthwort Family
Tribe: Sarumeae
Number of Species: Approx. 100

Species in the genus Asarum are commonly referred to as the Wild Gingers, and the rhizomes of many can actually be used as a ginger substitute. When used in cooking as a ginger substitute, the desired amount is usually doubled. The compound asarin, derived from the root of A. europaeum, resembles camphor. The flowers of plants in this genus are beautiful yet odd, and several species are appreciated by gardeners. The seeds of Asarum are prized by ants, which disperse the seeds after consuming its oil-carrying structure, termed an elaisome.

Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Asarum species:


References:

  1. Genders, Roy. Edible Wild Plants. New York: van der Marck Editions: 1988.
  2. Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
  3. Neiring, William A. and Nancy C. Olmstead., eds. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Alfred A. Knopf, New York: 1979.

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