white ginger

Hedychium coronarium
habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
infestation (Photo: Forest and Kim Starr, USGS)
leaves (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
flower cluster (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
close-up of flower with white stamens (Photo: Sheldon Navie)

A large herbaceous plant with short-lived upright flowering stems growing 1-3 m tall. It re-grows and spreads via long-lived creeping underground stems. Its large alternately arranged leaves (20-60 cm long and 4-10 cm wide) have a long base that sheaths the stems. Its showy flowers are borne in dense clusters (7-20 cm long and 4-8 cm wide) at the tips of the upright stems. These flowers are mostly white in colour with a single large stamen.

Common names 
Also known as: white ginger, butterfly ginger, butterfly lily, cinnamon jasmine, garland flower, garland lily, ginger lily, white butterfly ginger,
Flowering time 
Summer - Autumn
Native to China, Taiwan, Myanmar and the Indian Sub-continent (i.e. India and Nepal).
State declaration 
Category 3 - Must not be distributed or disposed. This means it must not be released into the environment unless the distribution or disposal is authorised in a regulation or under a permit.
Council declaration 
As per State Declaration
Known distribution 

Occasionally naturalised in some parts of eastern Australia (i.e. in south-eastern and northern Queensland).


A potential weed of native bushland, rainforests, closed forests, forest margins, watercourses and riparian habitats.


A long-lived (i.e. perennial) herbaceous plant usually growing 1-2 m tall, but occasionally reaching up to 3 m in height.

Impact and control methods 

"This commonly grown garden ornamental has spread from cultivation and occasionally become naturalised in wetter areas in south-eastern Queensland. White ginger (Hedychium coronarium) has the potential to be a significant environmental weed in the sub-tropical and warmer temperate regions of Australia. It was recently ranked among the 200 most invasive plant species in south-eastern Queensland and appears on the New South Wales North Coast environmental weeds list.

White ginger (Hedychium coronarium) grows up to 2 m tall and produces a thick mat of creeping underground stems (i.e. rhizomes) close to the soil surface. Under favourable conditions, it forms extensive thickets which replace native plants and suppresses their regeneration. It prefers wetter habitats and is a potential weed of native bushland, rainforests and other closed forests, forest margins, watercourses and riparian areas."

Stem and leaves 

"This species produces long-lived (i.e. perennial) creeping underground stems (i.e. rhizomes) and short-lived (i.e. annual) upright (i.e. erect) flowering stems.

The large leaves are alternately arranged along the stems with a long base that sheaths the stems. These glossy leaves (20-60 cm long and 4-10 cm wide) are relatively narrow (i.e. lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate) with entire margins and pointed tips (i.e. acuminate apices). Where the leaf sheath meets the leaf blade there is a broad membrane (i.e. ligule) 2-3 cm long. These leaves have hairless (i.e. glabrous) upper surfaces and finely hairy (i.e. puberulent) undersides."

Flowers and fruits 

"The showy flowers are arranged in dense spike-like clusters (7-20 cm long and 4-8 cm wide) at the tips of the stems. There are broad green bracts (4.5-5.5 cm long and 2.5-4.5 cm long) below each group of two or three flowers. The flowers are white with three large 'petals' (i.e. inner tepals) that are fused together at the base into a narrow tube 6-9 cm long. Their lobes are relatively narrow (i.e. linear or lanceolate) and 3-5 cm long. There is also a heart-shaped petal-like structure (i.e. an obcordate labellum) that is white with a cream or pale yellow base (4-6 cm long and 4-6 cm wide). The greenish coloured 'sepals' (i.e. outer tepals) are fused into a tube (4 cm long) and are split on one side. There are also two other petal-like white structures (3.5-5.5 cm long) that are modified from stamens (i.e. staminodes), and a single large fully-functional stamen. This stamen is borne on a white stalk (i.e. filament) about 3 cm long and has a pale yellowish anther about 1.5 cm long. Flowering occurs throughout the year, but mostly during summer and autumn.

The fruit is an oblong capsule with three compartments, however these fruit are rarely produced in Australia."

Reproduction and dispersal 

"This species reproduces by seed and also vegetatively via its creeping underground stems (i.e. rhizomes).

The seeds are readily dispersed by birds and other animals. Seeds and segments of its creeping underground stems (i.e. rhizomes) may also be dispersed by water and in dumped garden waste."

Similar species 

"White ginger (Hedychium coronarium) is similar to Kahili ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum ), yellow ginger (Hedychium flavescens) and red ginger (Hedychium coccineum). Only some of these species are currently known to be naturalised, but all are relatively common in cultivation. Hybrids between these species are also produced, and may exhibit intermediate characteristics. However, these species can be distinguished by the following differences:

white ginger (Hedychium coronarium) has white flowers with white stamens. The flowers are arranged in relatively short cluster 7-20 cm long.

Kahili ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum ) has yellow flowers with bright red stamens. The flowers are arranged in a large elongated cluster 15-45 cm long.

yellow ginger (Hedychium flavescens) has pale yellow flowers with yellow stamens. The flowers are arranged in relatively short cluster 15-20 cm long.

red ginger (Hedychium coccineum) has reddish, salmon or pink flowers with stamens that are the same colour as the petals. The flowers are arranged in a large elongated cluster usually more than 25 cm long."