Alpinia arundelliana

Native Ginger

Family: Zingiberaceae

Alpinia arundelliana is an understorey perennial lily-type plant (monocot; not woody) with fleshy stems, growing to 2 metres high, forming clumps to 1 metre wide, with a large rhizome.  

It grows naturally in NSW, north of Wyong, in scattered populations very close to the coast, extending to Fraser Island in Queensland.

It grows in rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest, very close to the coast.

Alpinia have simple leaves, produced in even-ranked pairs (distichious). The leaves are produced on non-woody palm-like stems which emerge from a ginger-like rhizome. In this species, leaves are lanceolate to 25 cm long and to 4 cm wide with wavy margins; light to dark green, 

Alpinia have flowers have a modified structure but have flower parts somewhat like a lily (i.e. monocot) with 6 tepals (3 petals and 3 sepals which are undifferentiated), 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 by 5 cm across and are mainly white to pink in colour, in November to January.

The fruits are capsules, approximately 10 mm in diameter and dark blue-black in colour containing many seeds, and are also arranged on the same post-flowering spike. 

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. May be useful around swimming pools. 

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.

First Nations Peoples of Australia have used the leaves to wrap fish for steaming and it has pink rhizome roots that are edible, similar to traditional ginger – Zingiber officinale – which is in the same family. 

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

Alpinia is a large genus of over 250 species, native to Australia and the wider Pacific, extending to Malesia. Australia has 5 species, 4 endemic, occurring in NSW and Queensland with two species currently recognised in NSW.

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).

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild. 

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Alpinia arundelliana profile page

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

Paten Park Native Nursery – Alpinia arundelliana profile page              https://ppnn.org.au/plantlist/alpinia-arundelliana/

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.