Saturday, 13 October 2012

Singapore Botanic Gardens: the ginger family

Nearly ten years ago, Singapore's Botanic Gardens officially launched a garden dedicated to the ginger family. The one hectare garden contains over 550 species, varieties, and cultivars of the ginger order Zingiberales, including their close relations the bananas, heliconias, birds of paradise, spiral gingers, prayer plants, and cannas.

The variety of flowers among the ginger family members is amazing: from the fragility of the crepe gingers, the architectural form of the beehive gingers, and the wax-like flowers of some of the spiral gingers.

If I had to pick a favourite, it would be the torch ginger, whose superb flowers emerge directly from the rhizomes. Like the lotus and waterlilies that I frequently post, I find their flowers have a sheer perfection of form that mesmerises me. There are both pink and red varieties, and I was lucky that both were blooming prolifically on my visit.

Torch ginger Etlingera elatior

Heliconias were well represented in the Ginger Garden.

More helconias, here with the cone-like flowered spiral ginger Costus woodsonii

Crepe ginger Cheilocostus speciosus is not just a pretty face. It is used in traditional medicine to treat fevers and intestinal worms.

Indianthus virgatus (prev. Schumannianthus virgatus) from India and Sri Lanka

Still more heliconias

Red spiral ginger Costus comosos, which grows really well for me in Brisbane (and even better for my brother in Ballina, a few hours south of me but with rich volcanic soil and more rain).

Calathea warszewiczii

Musa beccarii is a clump-forming banana. Its inner shoot is eaten as a vegetable.

Detail of one of the heliconia flower from the plant above.

Heliconia stricta 'Dwarf Jamaican'

Alpinia purpurata

The Parrots Beak Heliconia rostrata

I didn't notice the mass of ants on this flower until I looked at the picture later.

Just guessing, another Calathea (or maybe a Curcuma), but simply gorgeous, whatever it is.

I hope you enjoyed your visit to the Ginger Garden.  Next post, we will visit Singapore's phenomenal National Orchid Garden.


  1. Wow! I think you are so lucky to get to visit places like this. I love gingers and wish I had just a little better climate to grow them in.
    Here in Houston we can only dream of growing these beauties outside of a few Curcumas, Alpinias, and Kaempferias. I look forward to your next post on orchids! David/:0)

    1. In Brisbane we are warmer than you are in Houston, but I think I would really struggle with some of these. Many of the plants are definitely more tropical than sub-tropical, but such a joy to see.

  2. Oh wow! Sooo beautiful flowers!!! :)

    1. They are lovely indeed. Thanks for dropping by, Anna.

  3. Beautiful flowers. You have such a wonderful place to live. Here we are all getting ready for Winter - and that will mean snow in a couple of weeks. I will survive, maybe with a short holiday to Florida! Jack

    1. It's a bit warmer in Singapore than in my usual home in Brisbane, Jack, but even so I am thoroughly acclimatised and love the thought of heading somewhere warmer for winter.

  4. I have quite a few different species of gingers and heliconias in my garden, but I did spy some that I do not I will be on the hunt to find these beauties to add to my collection.

    1. I only have a couple, Virginia, but I would love to have a torch ginger that flowered like that pink one.

  5. I never tire of seeing new gingers and trying to fit a few more into my tightly packed garden :)

    1. I'm in the same boat, but my hippeastrums have been struggling. They get too much shade under the poinciana, and I think they will just have to make way for more gingers.

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