Sunday, 31 January 2010

Another Ginger Lily


Not much of a plant story today but another 'durable' plant in flower in my home garden. That is, a plant that will tough it out with minimal water and care.

As it happens, this one does require a little extra water so we've planted it near our rainwater tank. (Last time I talked about durable plants Alistair Hay pointed out quite correctly that if you have a seepage area, extra water or good rainfall a durable plant can be a little water hungry.)

It's a ginger lily, Hedychium greenii, I think. Browsing the interweb reveals it comes from Bhutan and nearby India. In fact according to GingersRus all (or most) plants in cultivation come from a single specimen collected in south-west Bhutan by Mr Green in 1908.

Dave Skinner of GingersRus then refects on something I was wondering about too. It is apparently the only Ginger Lily to produce little plantlets (bulbils) on the stems. I've been pulling them off and growing them since we planted our first rhizome a few years go.

This species is also sterile and won't produce any seed in cultivation. Skinner quotes ginger lily expert Tom Wood, who suggests this is because it has been repeatedly propagated in horticulture by bulbils. In an attempt to get some breeding material of Hedychium greenii, Wood visited a location in India where it was collected about 30 years ago but was unable to find the plant.

All very interesting. I will enjoy my first flowers and hope that its bulbil-producing habit doesn't make it a weedy plant around Sydney - ginger lilies are a great mid-summer surprise (the Scarlet Ginger Lily I wrote about last January is also in full bloom).

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