Herb latin name: Asarum heterotropoides

Family: Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort Family)

Medicinal use of Asarum heterotropoides:

The entire plant is anaesthetic, analgesic, antipyretic, antitussive, diaphoretic, diuretic and hypotensive. It is used in the treatment of colds, severe toothache, rheumatic pain and chronic bronchitis with copious and thin phlegm. This remedy should be used with caution, large doses of the essential oil can lead to death. The root is used, interchangeably with A. sieboldii, as a diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant and purgative. The root contains about 3% of an essential oil which is the main medical agent - the isolated essential oil has caused death in laboratory animals. The dried plant is used in the treatment of bronchitis, coughs, headaches etc.

Description of the plant:


15 cm
(6 inches)

Habitat of the herb:

Moist shady places in forests on mountain slopes or in valleys.

Propagation of Asarum heterotropoides:

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 18C. 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.

Cultivation of the herb:

Moist shady places in forests on mountain slopes or in valleys.

Known hazards of Asarum heterotropoides:

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.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.