In the House
Vermont Snakeroot (Asarum canadense)
*Also known as Canadian wild ginger, colicroot, false coltsfoot, Indian ginger, and wild ginger
Snakeroot forms dense mounds up to a foot tall with glossy, round, five- to six-inch leaves that grow directly from the rhizome. Sometimes, the leaves are more heart-shaped than round. Snakeroot is often grown in the garden as a ground cover plant. Small, fleshy, brownish-purple flowers are bottle-shaped and hidden under the leaves. Blooming from March to June, the flowers are said to give off a terrible odor. Oddly enough, the rhizome is used to make an essential oil.
The common name snakeroot may have come from its European cousin (Asarum europaeum), which was used for treating snake bites, or possibly because clumps of young shoots look like a den of little snakes. When cut or crushed, the rhizome smells similar to true ginger (Zingiber officinale) and is sometimes used as a substitute for it. Vermont snakeroot should not be confused with Virginian snakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria), which is toxic. Virginian snakeroot has narrow, pointed leaves.
Snakeroot aids in attracting luck, money, and prosperity. Carry a piece of dried root as a talisman or burn it for spell work. Also use it to help maneuver your way into a situation when directness may not work. Burn the root for ritual purification and to build protection especially from hexes. Snakeroot’s grounding energy provides stability that augments psychic work. Hold a piece of root to aid in connecting with the otherworld.
Snakeroot is associated with the element earth, and its astrological influence comes from Mars.
November is a good time to walk in the woods or around your neighborhood to look at tree roots. Roots are often only visible between periods of cover from green vegetation and autumn leaves or snow. You may find that roots create beautiful, intricate patterns as they seem to hold the landscape in a comforting hug. Leave offerings on these visible roots in appreciation for a tree’s magical energy.
108 Payack, A Million Words and Counting, 176.
109 Jones and Deer, The Country Diary of Garden Lore, 103.
110 Grieve, A Modern Herbal, 368.
111 Mario Molinari, Divided by Words: Making a Case for a New Literacy (Bury St. Edmonds, England: Arena Books, 2009), 32.
112 Gil Nelson, Atlantic Coastal Plain Wildflowers (Guilford, CT: The Globe Pequot Press, 2006), 84.
113 Kowalchik and Hylton, Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, 85.