Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

There Are over 1300 Different Varieties of Ginger in the World, from the Dainty to the Spectacular; Wild, Native, Exotic {Ndash} the Gingers Are Coming to Spice Up the Summer

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

There Are over 1300 Different Varieties of Ginger in the World, from the Dainty to the Spectacular; Wild, Native, Exotic {Ndash} the Gingers Are Coming to Spice Up the Summer

Article excerpt

I STILL get excited when the flowering gingers start to do their thing in late December/January. They make a stunning feature in the garden, a beautiful potted plant, and are excellent cut flowers.

The ginger family (Zingiberaceae) comprises over 1300 different varieties of flowering plants with creeping horizontal or tuberous rhizomes. Gingers occur throughout tropical Africa, Asia and the Americas, with the greatest diversity occurring in South-East Asia.

Within the family are many ornamental plants as well as spices including ginger (Zingiber officionalis), galangal (Alpinia galanga), turmeric and cardamom. The ginger flowers range from the dainty to the absolutely spectacular, and even the more 'useful' members of the family have decorative flowers.

There is huge variety in the ginger family. Some grow in full sun while others prefer shade. Some are evergreen and others are deciduous. There are native ones (like the Curcuma australis and Alpinia caerulea) and there are the exotics. Some grow tall, over 3m, while others, like the Kaempferia, are only 30cm high.

Many are dormant throughout winter; the entire plant disappears and re-emerges in late spring. They grow brilliantly here, thanks to our wet and steamy weather during the ginger growing season. You can grow them in the cooler areas, because a cold winter won't bother them in their dormant state.

The miniature gingers, including most of the Curcumas, Globbas and Kaempferia, come mainly from the forests of Thailand. They are deciduous over winter, and need to be kept on the dry side until they reappear in spring. 'Jewel of Burma' (Curcuma roscoeana) has brilliant orange flowers, whereas 'Jewel of Thailand' (Curcuma cordata) is pale pink. Curcuma 'Voodoo Magic' has rich burgundy flower bracts, and the leaves often have burgundy markings too. Globba winnittii 'Thai Beauty' bears beautiful pendulous pink or mauve flowers with delicate golden stamens. …

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