Alpinia purpurata cv. ‘Tahitian Ginger’
Red ginger, jungle queen, jungle king, opuhi uteute, gengibre rojo, Tahitian ginger, ostrich plume
Red ginger, or Alpinia purpurata, is native to the South Pacific: New Caledonia, New Hebrides, Yap, British Solomon Islands Protectorate, Bismarck Archipelago, and Bougainville. It was introduced to Hawai‘i in the 1930s and is now naturalized there. It is not found elsewhere in the wild in North America.
Identification: Plants are 3-15' (91-457 cm) tall and 24-48" (60-121 cm) around, on cane-like stems with large leaves. Leaves are deep green, 12-32" (30-81 cm) long and 4-9" (10-22 cm) wide, wrapped directly around the stem, with a pointed tip. Each stem produces a single flower 6-12" (15-30 cm) long. Actually, the brilliant red flower spike isn’t a flower—it is a set of modified leaves (“bracts”). The flowers are small and white, nearly unnoticed. The ‘Tahitian Ginger’ cultivar has a different flower shape. Instead of a cone with relative large bracts, it is a more rounded shape with smaller bracts.
Alpinia purpurata cv. ‘Tahitian Ginger’ on www.utopiapalmsandcycads.com
Ornamental ginger at the University of Hawai‘i’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at Mānoa
Alpinia purpurata on Forest and Kim Starr’s Starr Environmental site
Alpinia purpurata cv. ‘Tahitian Ginger’ description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.