Globba

Globba is a genus of delightful, dainty plants that could hardly have been given a more unattractive or inappropriate sounding name. Linnaeus seems at times to be deliberately perverse in naming his genera, or maybe he was just pulling our leg. The name derives from an Indonesian word for the plants, "galoba" that somehow seems much more appropriate to them. There are probably only about 35 species in the genus (although some books say 70) all from Asia and belonging to the Zingiberaceae family. Many of the species have the rather peculiar habit of producing bulbils on the inflorescence in place of the lower flowers and in one Indian species the bulbils are somewhat spicy and occasionally eaten.

Globba species naturally inhabit more or less strongly monsoonal climates. The Koba Koba Nursery in the U.K. suggests that they should be dried off in winter allowing them to go dormant, a state from which they are often a little reluctant to emerge in late spring. Drying them off is easiest in pots but when dry some are quite hardy and can take a few degrees of frost. It is possible to overwinter some of them in the garden but they do need a deep, dry mulch. The "dry" season in tropical Asia should not be mistaken with desert dry. It lasts 2-3 months with periodic rain during this time. Thus drying it out too much could explain the shock that causes the reluctant emergent of dormant tubers. Nhu Nguyen finds that species such as G. atrosanguineus does not need a dormancy and it does very well and blooms nicely without it.


Globba atrosanguinea is native to Sumatra and Borneo. It is a beautiful species that grows fast in warm areas (although not necessarily tropical). The flowers are a beautiful bright red and bulbils are usually produced from the inflorescence. It loves water, moderate light, and fertilizer while in active growth. The photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen.

Globba atrosanguinea, Nhu NguyenGlobba atrosanguinea, Nhu Nguyen

Globba schomburgkii likes warm moist weather and partial shade. This species can be somewhat weedy in regions where the bulbils produced by the inflorescences survive the winter cold. Photo 1 was taken September 2003 by Lee Poulsen and photos 2-3 were taken August 2005 by Alani Davis. Photo 4 was taken by Nhu Nguyen at the very southern tip of Vietnam.

Globba schomburgkii, Lee PoulsenGlobba schomburgkii, Alani DavisGlobba schomburgkii, Alani DavisGlobba schomburgkii, southern Vietnam, Nhu Nguyen

Globba winitti is another pretty Globba that also likes warm moist weather.

'Mauve Dancing Girl' is a selection with pink flowers. Photos taken September 2003 by Lee Poulsen and July 2006 by Alani Davis.

Globba winitti 'Mauve Dancing Girl', Lee PoulsenGlobba winitti 'Mauve Dancing Girl', Alani DavisGlobba winitti 'Mauve Dancing Girl', Alani DavisGlobba winitti 'Mauve Dancing Girl', Alani Davis

'White Dragon' is another selection with white flowers. Photo taken September 2003 by Lee Poulsen.

Globba winitti 'White Dragon', Lee Poulsen

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Page last modified on March 27, 2012, at 12:06 AM