Selected Trees and Shrubs
Alpinia purpurata, Synonym: Guillainia purpurata, Common name: Ginger Lily, Red Ginger, Lavandre Rouge
Plant Family: Belongs to the Zingiberaceae or Ginger family, which includes the cultivated Ginger of commerce (Zingiber officinale) and the common Shell Ginger (A. zerumbet).
Description: Very popular, beautiful, herbaceous shrub, 1-2 m tall (3-6 ft), blooming all year; leaves large, oblong, light green, 30-70 cm long (12-28 in), 10-22 cm wide (4-9 in), on either side of central stem; attractive, brilliant red flowers actually consist of an inflorescence of large, waxy looking bracts, with the real flowers inside – small, white and inconspicuous; inflorescences are terminal on unbranched, leafy shoots (occasionally branched in cultivated forms), 15-30 cm long (6-12 in), usually elongating considerably with age; bracts grow to 4-6 cm long (1.6-2.3 in) at fruiting; flowers can last up to 3 weeks on the plant and will produce plantlets as flower begins to fade; fruits are nearly round capsules, 2-3 cm in diameter (0.8-1.2 in); a hybrid of Red Ginger is the Pink Ginger, a larger version of the former, with flower head twice as large and flower bracts a soft light pink, with small white flowers emerging from within the bracts.
Natural Habitat: Commonly grown in wet areas of tropical gardens; naturalized in abandoned garden areas; propagated by seed, plantlets and suckers.
Origin and Distribution: Native of SE Asia and common throughout Caribbean, and is widely cultivated and naturalized in the tropics.
Uses: Ornamental specimen plant for both its beautiful flowers and large attractive leaves; used in the cut flower industry throughout the world; decoction of leaves used for stomach complaints; the rhizome of its cousin, the Ginger of commerce(Zingiber officinale), is also used to brew a tea, which, reportedly, is a digestive stimulant and a treatment for nausea, gout and rheumatism.
US National Tropical Botanical Gardens. Kalaheo, Hawaii 2004 (ntbg.org)
G.W. Lennox and S.A. Seddon. Flowers of the Caribbean. Macmillan, London 1978
C.D. Adams. Flowering Plants of Jamaica. University of the West Indies, Mona, Glasgow University Press 1972
Robert A. DeFilipps. Useful Plants of the Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 1998
Penelope N. Honychurch. Caribbean Wild Plants and Their Uses. Macmillan, London, 1986
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