Arrowleaf Ginger Asarum arifolium

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Not blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
jug plant


Asarum arifolium, commonly known as the arrow-leaved wild ginger, has a distinctive appearance characterized by its heart or arrow-shaped leaves that provide a lush, low-lying carpet of greenery. The leaves are usually dark green with a matte texture, and they may showcase subtle variegation or mottling that adds to their visual interest. This perennial plant also produces small, often unnoticed, jug-shaped flowers. These flowers are typically a reddish-brown or purple color and are nestled close to the ground, often hidden beneath the foliage. The blooms have an unusual appearance and add to the plant's unique charm. The plant's leaves and roots emit a ginger-like fragrance when crushed, an attribute that contributes to its common name. Overall, the arrow-leaved wild ginger presents a rich tapestry of foliage, accented by curious, hidden flowers that invite close inspection.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Synonyms

      Arrow-Leaf Ginger, Arrowleaf Wild Ginger, Littlefoot Wild Ginger, Southern Wild Ginger.

    • Common names

      Hexastylis arifolia, Asarum virginicum, Asarum arifolium var. virginicum, Asarum arifolium var. notatum, Hexastylis shuttleworthii var. harperi

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Arrowleaf ginger contains compounds that can be toxic when ingested. While it is not typically known as a highly toxic plant to humans, consuming parts of the plant can cause irritation to mucous membranes. If ingested, symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may occur. It is advisable to avoid consuming any part of the arrowleaf ginger plant.

    • To pets

      Arrowleaf ginger may also have toxic effects on pets if ingested. Although it is not usually considered severely toxic, it can still cause mild gastrointestinal upset in animals. Symptoms such as vomiting, drooling, and diarrhea can occur if a pet consumes parts of the arrowleaf ginger. It's important to prevent pets from ingesting this plant to avoid these potential adverse effects.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      6 inches (15 cm)

    • Spread

      12 inches (30 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      Southeastern United States


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Landscape enhancement: Asarum arifolium, commonly known as little brown jug, adds visual interest to shade gardens with its unique, jug-shaped flowers and attractive, heart-shaped foliage.
    • Ground cover: Little brown jug forms dense colonies that can serve as an effective ground cover in forested areas or shady landscapes, suppressing weed growth.
    • Erosion control: The rhizomatous nature of Asarum arifolium helps to stabilize soil in shaded slopes and other erosion-prone areas.
    • Wildlife habitat: The flowers provide early spring nectar for pollinators, while the dense foliage offers shelter for small woodland creatures.
    • Low maintenance: Once established in an appropriate shady environment, little brown jug requires minimal care, making it suitable for naturalistic and low-maintenance plantings.
    • Seasonal interest: Asarum arifolium maintains its foliage throughout winter in milder climates, providing year-round ground cover and visual interest even when other plants are dormant.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • As a ground cover in shaded gardens, Asarum arifolium with its heart-shaped leaves creates a lush, green carpet in areas where other plants might struggle due to lack of sunlight.
    • In landscaping, it's often used as an ornamental plant due to its unique triangular leaves and attractive mottled patterns.
    • The plant's dense foliage provides a habitat for small wildlife, such as ground-nesting birds and beneficial insects, offering them protection and shelter.
    • Asarum arifolium can be used in companion planting, it's believed to deter certain pests with its distinct aromatic properties, protecting neighboring plants.
    • It's sometimes utilized in educational settings, such as botanical gardens, to demonstrate native plant species of the Eastern United States in woodland ecosystems.
    • Artists and photographers may use Asarum arifolium as a subject in botanical illustrations and nature photography because of its aesthetic foliage and subtle flowers.
    • This plant is suitable for creating texture in a shade garden, as it contrasts well with plants that have larger leaves or different foliage colors.
    • In craft projects, the leaves can be used to make natural impressions in clay or plaster, leaving a beautiful, intricate leaf pattern.
    • Gardeners may use Asarum arifolium for mulching purposes due to its dense growth habit, which can help retain soil moisture and suppress weeds.
    • For eco-friendly garden designs, it's an ideal choice because it requires minimal watering once established, thus conserving water and fitting into xeriscaping principles in shaded areas.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Arrowleaf Ginger is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Arrowleaf Ginger is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Mystery: Asarum arifolium, commonly known as Arrowleaf Ginger, has heart-shaped leaves that tend to grow in shaded, hidden areas, which symbolizes the hidden realms and the unknown.
    • Protection: Arrowleaf Ginger was often used by indigenous peoples to ward off evil spirits and is thought to symbolize protection and the warding off of negative influences.
    • Healing: Due to its medicinal properties, Arrowleaf Ginger symbolizes healing and was traditionally used to treat various ailments, representing the recovery of health and well-being.

Every 1-2 weeks
500 - 2500 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring to summer
Not needed
  • water dropWater

    Arrow-leaf Ginger prefers consistently moist but well-drained soil. It should be watered thoroughly, ensuring that the soil is damp but not waterlogged. Typically, watering about once a week with approximately one gallon of water per plant is adequate, but this may need to be adjusted depending on climate and soil conditions. During the hotter summer months or in drier climates, more frequent watering may be required to maintain soil moisture. Less water is needed during the winter when the plant is dormant.

  • sunLight

    Arrow-leaf Ginger thrives best in partial to full shade. It should be placed in a spot that receives dappled sunlight or light filtered through a canopy of trees. Direct sunlight should be avoided as it can burn the leaves of this understory plant.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Arrow-leaf Ginger does well in a wide range of temperatures but prefers a climate that is generally cool to moderate. The ideal temperature range for this plant is between 60°F and 80°F. It can survive minimum temperatures down to 50°F and should not be exposed to temperatures above 90°F as it may stress the plant.

  • scissorsPruning

    Arrow-leaf Ginger benefits from occasional pruning to remove dead or yellowing leaves and promote healthier growth. It's best to prune in the late winter or early spring before new growth begins. This helps maintain an attractive shape and removes any foliage damaged over winter.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    The arrow-leaf ginger thrives best in soil that is well-draining, rich in organic matter, and slightly acidic to neutral (pH 5.5 to 7.0). A mix of equal parts peat, pine bark, and perlite or sand encourages good drainage and mimics the plant's natural woodland conditions.

  • plantRepotting

    Arrow-leaf ginger should be repotted every 2-3 years or when it outgrows its current pot. It's essential to refresh the soil medium to maintain health and vigor.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Arrow-leaf ginger prefers high humidity levels, typically between 60% to 80%, to replicate its native woodland environment.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place arrow-leaf ginger in shade and keep soil moist.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in shady area with moist, rich soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      6-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Asarum arifolium, commonly known as arrow-leaf wild ginger, begins its life cycle as a seed, which upon finding suitable moist and shaded soil conditions germinates to produce a small root system and shoots that grow into heart-shaped leaves. These evergreen leaves remain close to the ground, and the plant develops slowly by spreading rhizomes which enable it to form small colonies. After a few years of vegetative growth, mature wild ginger plants will produce small, jug-shaped, brownish-purple flowers close to the ground, often hidden by the leaves, which are pollinated primarily by ground-foraging insects. After pollination, the flowers develop into capsule-like seed pods that, when ripe, release seeds into the surrounding environment. The seeds are sometimes spread by ants, a process known as myrmecochory, which helps the plant colonize new areas. Wild ginger will continue this cycle year after year, with individual plants having a perennial lifespan, often living for many years in the right conditions.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring to summer

    • The Arrowleaf Ginger, known scientifically as Asarum arifolium, is a plant that is most popularly propagated through division. The best time for this method is in the autumn or early spring when the plant is not actively growing. To propagate by division, carefully dig up the plant and gently separate the rhizomes, ensuring each division has at least one growth bud. The divisions are then replanted into moist, well-draining soil at the same depth they were previously growing. Water the newly planted divisions well to help establish them. This straightforward approach allows gardeners to increase their stock of Arrowleaf Ginger effectively.