Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) is an unusual Smoky Mountains wildflower found in April on moist hillsides and stream banks. It’s a member of the Birthwort family, and the rhizomes do actually have the taste and smell of ginger. The plant has been used as a natural tea to ease an assortment of ailments.
If you learn to recognize the two umbrella-like heart-shaped leaves, you can peek underneath to see the maroon blossom usually lying on the ground, where it can be pollinated by crawling insects. This wildflower is not too hard to find. I have seen Wild Ginger on the Chestnut Top trail and the banks on either side of Fern Branch Falls on Porters Creek Trail, where they seem to thrive in the nooks of the boulders that cascade down from the waterfall.
If you’re in the Gatlinburg area on vacation or a wildflower hunt, please come on out to the Arts and Crafts Loop on Glades Rd. The William Britten Gallery has my complete collection of Smoky Mountains photography.