Author Topic: Hexastylis/Asarum hybrids and breeding  (Read 20 times)

Garrett Schantz

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Hexastylis/Asarum hybrids and breeding
« on: 2020-11-12, 06:36:32 PM »
I hadn't really looked into "Wild Ginger" that much until a few days ago. Seems to have a useable medicinal root - apparently somewhat toxic in large doses. Asarum canadense is pollinated by beetles, flies, and ants. Seems to self pollinate as well - the flower isn't really of much appeal though considering its towards the base. Also a perennial down to zone 4, which is nice.

 So yeah a pretty much a small green hosta without the flowers. Which is what I thought at first - then I started looking for related species in the genus. Seems like they can form fertile hybrids together. And the "related species" themselves have some nice qualities. Mainly natural variegations, and apparently similar cold hardiness.
Google images shows Asarum virginicum having a dark green - almost black leaf with some white variegation. Hexastylis arifolia seems similar as well. "Hexastylis or heartleaf is a segregate of the genus Asarum"
 Older canadense stands appear to grow a bit taller so it could be more comparable to a hosta later in life. Hybrids might lead to roots with less toxicity if bred correctly as well. Which could result in a viable ginger substitute.

 Normally I wouldn't mention or bring up something with almost no practical uses, but the way the flower is pollinated was of interest to me. I don't hear too much about beetle, flies or ants as pollinators for really anything for the most part. Some of these insects may be predators - or pests in gardens depending on the species. Being a genus native to North America, it would probably be beneficial to have around just for the native insects. It would be rather interesting to see if any insects that are attracted would attempt pollinating some of the more "odd" tomato flowers as well.

 Anyone have experience with this genus?