Canada wild ginger, black snakeroot, black snakeweed, broad-leaved sarabacca, Canada snakeroot, catfoot, colicroot, coltsfoot, cultsfoot snakeroot, wild ginger.
A low-growing stemless perennial with heartshaped soft leaves growing from a rhizome. Thick, brownish, bell-shaped flowers, purple inside, are found near the root. The flowers are often hidden under dry leaves. The stem has a spicy odor.
April to May.
New Brunswick to North Carolina, w. to Kansas.
Cool, moist, deep woods and slopes.
Harvest Rhizome in spring or fall, and roots anytime.
The first common name of this plant, Canada wild ginger, indicates the aromatic quality of its rhizome. It was used as a flavoring agent in colonial America in place of Jamaica ginger. The rhizome has value as an expectorant, antiseptic, and tonic. In Appalachia a root tea is used to relieve stomach gas.
The Chippewa used this herb to season food and chewed the root to relieve indigestion. The Iroquois used the roots to preserve meats.