Alpinia

Alpinia is a genus in the Zingiberaceae or ginger family. Most of the genus is tropical and sensitive to frost, though several species are root hardy to at least zone 8. Since most species bloom terminally on older stems if growth is killed by freezing, there will be no flowers. Most species have highly aromatic foliage which emerge from pseudostems which can be anywhere between 6" to 25' (15 cm to 8 m) tall and arise from fleshy rhizomes.


Alpinia boia is a very architecturally beautiful species. It is native to Fiji. The plant can grow to some 6 meters tall. Photos by Nhu Nguyen.

Alpinia boia, Nhu NguyenAlpinia boia, Nhu Nguyen

Alpinia carolinensis is a giant species, one of the largest of all the Zingiberaceae. The pseudostem here measures about 25' (8 m) tall. It is native to the Caroline Islands in the western Pacific. The photo by Jacob Uluwehi Knecht shows Nhu Nguyen standing underneath the grove for scale.

Alpinia carolinensis, Jacob Uluwehi Knecht

Alpinia japonica is an unusually hardy member of this genus from China, Taiwan, and Japan. It is mostly evergreen in zone 8b and produces spikes of peppermint-striped red and white flowers in the spring. These occasionally produce small grape-shaped seed capsules which take a year to mature and turn bright red the following year when flowers are emerging. Photos by Alani Davis.

Alpinia japonica, Alani DavisAlpinia japonica, Alani DavisAlpinia japonica, Alani Davis

Alpinia pumila is an unusually hardy member of this genus from China. Flowers are very similar to those of A. japonica but with shiny silver patterned foliage to 8-10". Creeping rhizomes form nice clumps with time. Photos by Alani Davis.

Alpinia pumila, Alani DavisAlpinia pumila, Alani Davis

Alpinia purpurata is a species native to the Maluku islands of Indonesia to the southwest Pacific. It is commonly grown in tropical gardens and many varieties of different shades are available. An interesting property in this species is that young plants can develop from old inflorecences.

Alpinia purpurata 'Pink' was photographed by Nhu Nguyen showing the young plants developing out of an old inflorescence.

Alpinia purpurata, Nhu Nguyen

Alpinia zerumbet is perhaps the world's most commonly planted Alpinia. It is native to southern Japan, Taiwan, southern China to northern Malaysia. Because of its wide range, some forms can withstand moderate cold. The flowers are a striking red and yellow. There are many horticultural varieties of this species available. Photo by Nhu Nguyen.

Alpinia zerumbet, Nhu Nguyen

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Page last modified on March 27, 2014, at 06:24 PM