This species is treated as Asarum arifolium Michx., in some works, but we are following the treatment in Flora of N. America[
Asarum arifolium Michx.
Asarum callifolium Small
Asarum ruthii Ashe
Heterotropa arifolia (Michx.) A.Gray
Hexastylis callifolia (Small) Small
Hexastylis ruthii (Ashe) Small
Hexastylis arifolia is an evergreen, perennial plant producing a cluster of leaves up to 15cm tall from a creeping rootstock[
The plant is harvestd from the wild for local use as a medicine and possibly as the source of an essential oil.
Although no reports of toxicity have been found for this plant, at least 3 other members of this genus have reports that the leaves are toxic[
]. Some caution is therefore advised in the use of this plant.
South-eastern N. America - Tennessee and Virginia, south to Louisiana and Florida
Upland deciduous and mixed deciduous-conifer forests; at elevations from sea level to 600 metres[
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Plants are hardy to at least -15°c[
Prefers a rich moist neutral to acid soil in woodland or a shady position in the rock garden[
The flowers are malodorous and are mainly self-pollinated but are also pollinated by mycotrophic flies[
The root has a pungent, aromatic smell like mild pepper and ginger mixed, but more strongly aromatic[
Plants often self-sow when growing in a suitable position[
The root is stomachic[
The plant has been used in the treatment of stomach pains, miscellaneous pains, heart trouble, backaches; whooping cough and asthma[
An essential oil obtained from the plant has the odour of sassafras[
Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the summer[
]. Stored seed will require 3 weeks cold stratification and should be sown in late winter[
]. The seed usually germinates in the spring in 1 - 4 or more weeks at 18°c[
]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out when large enough in late spring.
Division in spring or autumn. Plants are slow to increase[
]. It is best to pot the divisions up and keep them in light shade in the greenhouse until they are growing away strongly.