Red Ginger

Alpinia purpurata

The “Red” Ginger plant that has white flowers

Alpinia purpurata goes by a few common names, including Red Ginger, Ostrich Plume and Pink Cone Ginger, Jungle King, Opuhi uteute, and Tahitian Ginger. Most people would simply call it red ginger because of its apparently showy red flowers. But it doesn’t have red flowers. Its flowers are white. The red bracts that cover the plant give the impression of a long-lasting, red-flowered inflorescence. Only a patient observer will actually find the true flower buried inside the red bracts.

Where does Red Ginger grow?

Red ginger can be grown all over the world in tropical areas. While native originally to Malaysia, it has been spread across the tropics and naturalized in many areas. In fact, it is the national flower of Samoa where it is known as “teuila.” In Hawaii, it is considered an invasive species and is taking over the forest.

Growing Red Ginger

Red ginger plants, like most gingers, are plants that are almost entirely tropical. They cannot tolerate freezing temperatures except very briefly. Red ginger can be grown in South Florida, Australia, and Hawaii, among other places.

Problems in Hawaii

Red ginger, like other gingers, is an invasive species in Hawaii. However, because it is less common for the seeds to spread, like Kahili ginger, it is a bit less problematic.

General Description

Red Ginger can grow up to nine feet tall and develop into large clumps. There are two varieties, red (known as Jungle King) and pink (Jungle Queen). The wild ginger has a deep red inflorescence. The small white flowers emerge from inside the bracts. Seeds are extremely small. Leaves are shiny and green. Red Ginger “blooms” year round and is used as a tropical cut flower.

Other information on Red Ginger

  • Daves Garden has usefull information on how to grow Red Ginger

Related Topics

Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

You can follow Rob Nelson