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For Your Garden - February 2011

Spring will be here soon. Are you planning your garden now? Why not add a few native plants? Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year.

wild ginger (Asarum canadense)
Photo © 2011, River Valley Photographic Resources, Ltd.,

Wild ginger blooms from April through May in rich woodlands throughout Illinois. This plant is a member of the mostly tropical Birthwort family. The leaves are heart-shaped and have hairy stalks. The plant grows from six to 12 inches tall. Flowers are red-brown with three sepals. The flower does not have petals. Flowers develop at ground level at the point where the two leaf stalks merge. These plants often grow thickly on the forest floor and provide good ground cover.

Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.

Illinois Range

Native Plant Information

For more information about Illinois native plants, visit our Native Habitat Descriptions, Requirements, and Plant Lists page. The following publications are available from the IDNR on our publications page.


​Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Aristolochiales
Family: Aristolochiaceae

Illinois Status: common, native