Ethnobotany in your own backyard: Wild Ginger

If you’ve got a penchant for history as well as a love of weeding and planting, you might want to consider dedicating a corner of your flower garden to the pursuits of ethnobotany.

We hope to regularly highlight ethnobotanical herbs in this blog, and we’re starting off with a great one: wild ginger. First, here is a brief description of ethnobotany.

What is ethnobotany?
In layman’s terms, ethnobotany is the study of the traditional human uses of plants, whether that be for edible, medicinal or even spiritual purposes. While most of us have turned to domesticated versions of several plants, there are a few hearty plants that will provide just the right amount of history and greenery.

Wild ginger
Perfect for any tummy that’s a little upset and as a ground cover, wild ginger easily spreads across any space you let it into with its lush heart-shaped leaves. Best of all, this plant hides a vibrant secret – just turn over any of these wide leaves, and you’ll find ginger’s deep maroon-hued flowers happily enjoying the shade.

Medicinally, this plant aids the body’s ability to digest foods, as well as the many functions that rely on proper digestion. The herb has also been used to assist with morning sickness in pregnant women, motion sickness, nausea, diarrhea and inflammation of the bowels.

Quick garden tip
If you’re trying to plan a good space to plant this wild guy, look for a space that’s about 6 to 10 inches wide to start with – this plant is likely to spread, though, so if you end up needing more space, don’t say we didn’t warn you!

If you have a favorite wild plant, be sure to look up its past medicinal or edible history. You may be surprised with what you find!