Herychium gardnerianum – Kahili Ginger
Erect, herbaceous perenial, growing 1-2m tall with alternating leaves ranging from 20-60cm long and 8-18cm wide. Flowers are spike-like clusters, bright yellow with vibrant red stamens, located at the end of the flowering stalk. Seeds are large and brown with a bright red covering.
Grows very rapidly from a tuber and lives up to 70 years. It flowers in the summer/autumn and forms seeds in the autumn/winter. It forms vast, dense colonies that smother and kill nearby native plant species. Because of this, it is considered invasive in many places.
Herychium gardnerianum is native to India, Nepal, and the lower slopes of the Himalayans, but has become a major invasive weed in many places, especially in New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii.
This plant does well in wet and fertile soils between sea level and 1700m. It grows best in warm, sunny areas but can readily grow in full shade under a forest canopy. It is commonly found in the subtropics and warmer temperate regions.
Seeds are dispersed by birds and other animals attracted to their bright red color. Vegetative reproduction occurs via creeping underground stems, also known as rhizomes. New plants can grow from broken off sections of rhizomes.
Used as an ornamental plant in gardens in many places for its bright, fragrant flowers.
- “Hedychium Gardnerianum (kahili Ginger).” Invasive Species Compendium. CABI, https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/26679.
- “Wild Ginger.” Northland Regional Council. http://www.rnzih.org.nz/pages/Pest%20Facts%204%20-%20Wild%20Ginger.pdf.
- Pest Facts. Auckland, N.Z.: Auckland Regional Council Environment, 2001. Royal New Zealand
- Institute of Horticulture. http://www.rnzih.org.nz/pages/l30584_2.pdf.
- “Weeds of Australia – Weed Identification – Kahili Ginger.” Australian Weeds Committee, https://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/media/Html/hedychium_gardnerianum.htm.
This article was contributed by Courtney Shish (BBIO 220 SUM’15) and Sarah Verlinde. For questions regarding the UWB/CC Plant Tour, contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org. Top flowering photo is a public domain image, provided by Efraimstochter, Pixabay.