The wild ginger plant can be spotted year-round and identified by its deep green, shiny, finely-haired, prominent-veined leaves that look nature’s valentine. But in the spring, these leaves hide a purplish brown flower with three-parts–each one tapering off like the handlebars on a mustache.
If the flower isn’t impressive enough, when you find a wild ginger plant (or mat of plants–they tend to spread), take your fingernail, lightly scratch the stem, and sniff. The lemony-ginger scent is what gives this plant its name. And, indeed, Native Americans have used this root as both a flavoring and a medicine. (But, before you run out to grab a handful for dinner, be forewarned that the plant does contain cancer-causing toxins!)
My go-to spot for wild ginger at Silver Falls is a bit of a trek, although you’re guaranteed to find it. Head to Silver Falls’ tallest fall, Double Falls. On the spur trail, keep your eyes to the left. When you find a wild ginger leaf, carefully lift it and look for a purplish brown, wild, wild, wildflower. Good luck!