Alpinia arundelliana

Native Ginger

Family: Zingiberaceae

Alpinia arundelliana is an understorey perennial lily-type plant (not woody) growing to 2 m high in rainforest or wet sclerophyll forest; north from Wyong north into Queensland. It is only found in coastal areas.

The sword-shaped leaves are up to 25 cm long and to 4 cm wide with wavy margins.

The leaves are produced on non-woody palm-like stems which emerge from a ginger-like rhizome.

The flowers have a modified structure but have flower parts somewhat like a lily (i.e. monocot) with 6 tepals, some of which are fused into a tube. Each flower has a front wide showy tepal (which serves as a landing pad for insects). Flowers are produced in a terminal spike-like head up to 8 cm long and are mainly white to pink in colour, in November to January.

The fruit are capsules, approximately 10 mm in diameter and dark blue-black in colour containing many seeds.

In the garden

Hardy in cultivation and grows best in rich soils in a shaded to lightly shaded position as an understorey plant. Lends strongly to rainforest and tropical gardens.

Can be tried as an indoor plant.

Suitable for container growing.

Pollinated by bees.


From seed or rhizome division.

Other information

Very similar to Alpinia caerulea but differs in the size of the inflorescence, flower colour and leaf size.

Indigenous Australians used the leaves to wrap fish for steaming and it has pink rhizome roots are edible, similar to traditional ginger.

Likely fire retardant. Can likely regenerate easily from rhizomes after fire but unlikely to be in habitats exposed to fire.

Alpinia – is named in honour of Prospero Alpini (1553-1617), a 16th and 17th -century Italian doctor and botanist who specialized in exotic plants and discovered some very important aspects relating to plant pollination and use. The ginger-family genus Alpinia was named in his honour by Carolus Linnaeus.

arundelliana – in honour of Edward Howard Arundel (1840-1910), a prominent early citizen of Eumundi in Queensland; further detail is hard to find.


By Jeff Howes