Hedychium coronarium (White Ginger)

Scientific name

Hedychium coronarium J. Koenig


Hedychium flavescens Carly; Hedychium flavum Roscoe; Hedychium sulphureumWall.

Common names

White ginger. butterfly ginger, butterfly lily, cinnamon jasmine, garland flower, garland lily, ginger lily, white butterfly ginger, white butterfly ginger lily, white garland lily, white garland-lily, white ginger, white ginger butterfly lily, white ginger lily, white ginger-lily, white gingerlily, wild ginger




Native to China, Taiwan, Myanmar and the Indian Sub-continent (India and Nepal).

Naturalised distribution (global)

Locations within which Hedychium coronarium is naturalised include eastern Australia, southern Africa, south-eastern USA, Central America and many oceanic islands with warm climates.

Introduced, naturalised or invasive in East Africa

Hedychium coronarium is invasive in parts of Kenya (A.B.R. Witt pers. obs.) and is present in Tanzania (Henderson 2002). The editors are not aware of references to this species in the wild in Uganda although it is likely to be present .


Hedychium coronarium can be found in shaded or semi-shaded areas subjected to waterlogging. It is found along river banks and in shallow water but not in areas where it may become totally submerged. It can also occur on the edges of shaded secondary forests. Under favourable conditions, it forms extensive thickets which replace native plants and suppresses their regeneration. It is a potential weed of native bushland, rainforests and other closed forests, forest margins and riparian zones (banks of watercourses).


Hedychium coronarium is a  long-lived (perennial) herbaceous plant usually growing 1-2.5 m tall but sometimes up to 2.5 m tall. It produces a thick mat of creeping underground stems (rhizomes) close to the soil surface.

Reproduction and dispersal

Reproduction is mainly vegetative, from its rhizomes but it can produce seeds. The red aril (small fleshy appendage attached to a seed) attracts insects which may disperse the seeds.

Economic and other uses

Hedychium coronarium is a widely cultivated garden ornamental and as a source of cut flowers. It is the national plant of Cuba. Its rhizomes are edible and also have medicinal properties. However, these uses cannot compensate for this plant's overall negative impacts.

Environmental and other impacts

Hedychium coronarium can form extensive thickets in moist areas that suppress the regeneration of native species. It can be a weed of banana and cocoa plantations.

H. coronarium has been included in the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD 2008). It has been listed as a noxious weed in South Africa (prohibited plants that must be controlled. They serve no economic purpose and possess characteristics that are harmful to humans, animals or the environment)
and Queensland Australia.


The precise management measures adopted for any plant invasion will depend upon factors such as the terrain, the cost and availability of labour, the severity of the infestation and the presence of other invasive species. Some components of an integrated management approach are introduced below.

The best form of invasive species management is prevention. If prevention is no longer possible, it is best to treat the weed infestations when they are small to prevent them from establishing (early detection and rapid response). Control is generally best applied to the least infested areas before dense infestations are tackled. Consistent follow-up work is required for sustainable management.

Mechanical control is very difficult because the plant can resprout from parts of it rhizomes left in the ground and from rhizome fragments that are dropped. Chemical control can be effective but it must be carried out several times because of regrowth from the rhizomes. When using any herbicide always read the label first and follow all instructions and safety requirements. If in doubt consult an expert. Fire can be used as a management tool, but usually in combination with other methods such as chaining. Fire alone may actually increase Hedychium coronarium densities by plant regrowth and enhanced seed germination.

The efficacy of potential biological control agents (fungal pathogens) for this and related species are being investigated.


Not listed as a noxious weed by the state or governments in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.


CABI Invasive Species Compendium online data sheet. Hedychium coronarium (butterfly ginger). CABI Publishing 2011. www.cabi.org/ISC. Accessed March 2011.

GISD (2008). Global Invasive Species Database online data sheet. Hedychium coronarium (herb). www.issg.org/database. Accessed March 2011.

Henderson, L. (2001).  Alien weeds and invasive plants. A complete guide to declared weeds and invaders in South Africa.  Plant Protection Research Institute Handbook No. 12, 300pp. PPR, ARC South Africa.


Agnes Lusweti, National Museums of Kenya; Emily Wabuyele, National Museums of Kenya, Paul Ssegawa, Makerere University; John Mauremootoo, BioNET-INTERNATIONAL Secretariat - UK.


This fact sheet is adapted from The Environmental Weeds of Australia by Sheldon Navie and Steve Adkins, Centre for Biological Information Technology, University of Queensland. We recognise the support from the National Museums of Kenya, Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) - Tanzania and Makerere University, Uganda. This activity was undertaken as part of the BioNET-EAFRINET UVIMA Project (Taxonomy for Development in East Africa).


BioNET-EAFRINET Regional Coordinator: [email protected]