Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Hedychium coronarium
(white butterfly ginger lily)



Hedychium coronarium (white butterfly ginger lily)


  • Last modified
  • 22 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Hedychium coronarium
  • Preferred Common Name
  • white butterfly ginger lily
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • H. coronarium is invasive in shallow water systems, along streams and in waterlogged areas in the tropics and subtropics. Once established, it is difficult to control because it reproduces vegetatively. Its att...

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Growth habit.
CaptionGrowth habit.
Copyright©Sheldon Navie
Growth habit.
HabitGrowth habit.©Sheldon Navie
Leaves and stems.
CaptionLeaves and stems.
Copyright©Sheldon Navie
Leaves and stems.
LeavesLeaves and stems.©Sheldon Navie
Flowering spike of H. coronarium.
CaptionFlowering spike of H. coronarium.
CopyrightDjamila Djeddour/CABI Bioscience
Flowering spike of H. coronarium.
FlowersFlowering spike of H. coronarium.Djamila Djeddour/CABI Bioscience
Copyright©Sheldon Navie
FlowersFlowers.©Sheldon Navie
H. coronarium: individual flower.
CaptionH. coronarium: individual flower.
Copyright©Kurt G. Kissmann
H. coronarium: individual flower.
FlowerH. coronarium: individual flower.©Kurt G. Kissmann
H. coronarium: close-up of leaves and flowers.
TitleLeaves and flowers
CaptionH. coronarium: close-up of leaves and flowers.
CopyrightKurt G. Kissmann
H. coronarium: close-up of leaves and flowers.
Leaves and flowersH. coronarium: close-up of leaves and flowers.Kurt G. Kissmann
H. coronarium: leaves and flowers.
CaptionH. coronarium: leaves and flowers.
CopyrightKurt G. Kissmann
H. coronarium: leaves and flowers.
LeavesH. coronarium: leaves and flowers.Kurt G. Kissmann
H. coronarium: open capsule showing seeds covered by aril.
CaptionH. coronarium: open capsule showing seeds covered by aril.
CopyrightKurt G. Kissmann
H. coronarium: open capsule showing seeds covered by aril.
CapsuleH. coronarium: open capsule showing seeds covered by aril.Kurt G. Kissmann
Seeds from various angles.
CaptionSeeds from various angles.
CopyrightKurt G. Kissmann
Seeds from various angles.
SeedsSeeds from various angles.Kurt G. Kissmann
H. coronarium invasion in Brazil.
TitleInvasive habit
CaptionH. coronarium invasion in Brazil.
Copyright©CABI/Harry C. Evans
H. coronarium invasion in Brazil.
Invasive habitH. coronarium invasion in Brazil.©CABI/Harry C. Evans


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Hedychium coronarium J. König (1783)

Preferred Common Name

  • white butterfly ginger lily

Other Scientific Names

  • Amomum filiformed Hunter ex Ridl.
  • Gandasulium coronarium (J. König) Kuntze
  • Gandasulium lingulatum (Hassk.) Kuntze
  • Hedychium chrysoleucum Hook.
  • Hedychium coronarium var. baimao Z.Y. Zhu
  • Hedychium coronarium var. chrysoleucum (Hook.) Baker
  • Hedychium coronarium var. maximum (Roscoe) Eichler
  • Hedychium gandasulium Buch. Ham. ex Wall.
  • Hedychium lingulatum Hassk.
  • Hedychium maximum Roscoe
  • Hedychium prophetae Buch. Ham. ex Wall.
  • Hedychium sulphureum Wall.

International Common Names

  • English: butterfly ginger; butterfly lily; cinnamon jasmine; garland flower; ginger lily; white butterfly ginger; white garland lily; white garland-lily; white ginger; wild ginger
  • Spanish: blanca mariposa; caña de ambar; dulce nieve (Mexico); flor de San Juan; heliotropo; jazmin cimarrón (Mexico); jazmin del rio (Mexico); lirio blanco; lirio de arroyo; mariposa; narciso; nardo; palomita; perlas de Orient (Guatemala)
  • French: canne d’ eau; canne rivière; gingembre douleur; longouze, hédychie couronnée; narcisse
  • Portuguese: açucena; borboleta; jasmim; lírio-do-brejo

Local Common Names

  • American Samoa: teuila paepae
  • Brazil: borboleta-amarela; cardomomo-do-mato; jasmine-borboleta; lágrima-de-moça; lírio do brejo; lírio-branco; olímpia
  • Cook Islands: kopi teatea, re‘a teatea
  • Cuba: flor de mariposa; mariposa blanca
  • El Salvador: mariposa
  • Fiji: ndrove, cevuga vula, dalasika/ thevunga
  • Germany: Kranzblume
  • Haiti: narcisse
  • India: dolan champa; sontaka; suruli sugandhi; takhellei angouba
  • Madagascar: longoza
  • Mexico: palomitas
  • Micronesia, Federated states of: sinter pwetepwet, sinser; tolon
  • Nepal: dudh kewara
  • Netherlands: vlindergember
  • Philippines: kamia
  • Puerto Rico: dulce nieve; jazmín cimarrón; jazmín de río; mariposa blance
  • Saint Lucia: lavann; lavender
  • Samoa: teuila paepae tunun
  • Seychelles: mon ame
  • Tonga: ndrove, cevuga vula, dalasika/ thevunga
  • USA/Hawaii: ‘awapuhi ke‘oke‘o

EPPO code

  • HEYCO (Hedychium coronarium)
  • HEYFL (Hedychium flavum)
  • HEYFV (Hedychium flavescens)

Summary of Invasiveness

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H. coronarium is invasive in shallow water systems, along streams and in waterlogged areas in the tropics and subtropics. Once established, it is difficult to control because it reproduces vegetatively. Its attractive flowers make it a desirable ornamental plant.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Zingiberales
  •                         Family: Zingiberaceae
  •                             Genus: Hedychium
  •                                 Species: Hedychium coronarium

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Hedychium coronarium belongs to the Zingiberaceae (ginger) family of the class Monocotyledonae. It is the type species for the genus and was described by Johann Koenig in 1783.


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Herbaceous upright plants, growing 1-2.5 m high. Fleshy perennial rhizomes are 2.5-5 cm in diameter and strongly aromatic. Several culms can arise from the rhizome to form clones. Culms are circular in cross section, vigorous, unbranched, reddish at the base and otherwise totally covered by leaf sheets, one for each internode. Leaves 2-ranked, alternately disposed. Ligules membranaceous, 2-3 cm long. Blades 30-60 cm long and 10-15 cm wide, oblong to lanceolate narrowed to a slender point. Margins entire, midrib prominent on dorsal face. Smooth and glabrous on both surfaces, intense green, glossy. Inflorescence terminal and singular, presenting a series of bracts partially overlapping. Bracts ovate with acute apex, 4-5 cm long. Flowers emerge from between the bracts, 2-3 flowers per bract. Flowers zygomorphic, hermaphrodite. Calyx glabrous, less than half the length of the corolla tube, tubular ca. 4 cm long, hidden between the bracts, opening obliquely. Corolla tubular at the lower part, forming three lobes at the apex. Within are four petaloid staminodes, two of which are united to form a bilobed labellum; the other two are elliptic-lanceolate and remain separate. The petaloid staminodes are 4-5 cm long, white, sometimes with yellow stains. A long white filament arises through the corolla and bears a single anther at its apex. The fruit is an oblong capsule, 2.5-3.5 cm long, that dehisces loculicidally by three valves, bright orange inside. Each of the three loculi contains numerous seeds attached to an axil placenta. Seeds are ovoid, 6 mm long and 4 mm wide, red in colour. Seeds are covered by a bright red aril. The flowers are intensely fragranced, reminiscent of jasmines.

Plant Type

Top of page Aquatic
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated


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H. coronarium is a native of the Himalayas and southern China (van Valkenburg and Bunyapraphatsara, 2001). It was cultivated in English glasshouses in the late 18th  century and in 1803 was noted as being “very rare” in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine (Csurhes and Hannan-Jones, 2008). It has been taken to many parts of the world and is a popular landscape and ornamental plant throughout Florida, the Gulf Coast, California, the Caribbean and tropical and subtropical areas worldwide. It is also grown in mild winter temperate regions of North America and Europe where it dies back in winter but re-emerges in spring.

Naturalised and invasive in Brazil, the species occurs in swamps in large areas of the country, along roadsides in the municipality of Teresópolis, Rio de Janeiro (Souza and Correia, 2007). The plant is thought to have been brought there by African slaves who used the leaves of this plant as mattresses. It is also found all along the coastline with high concentrations in the cocoa plantation areas of the states of Bahia and Espirito Santo (Kissmann, 1997).

This species was first recorded in Hawaii in 1888, introduced by Chinese immigrants as an ornamental and is now widely distributed and a serious invader in the wet habitats of the archipelago. There are major infestations above Nahiku and Wailau Valley (Maui), as well as Puna and Kohala Mountains (Big Island). It is not clear why white ginger infestations are confined to Maui and Big Island, as suitable habitat exists on other islands (Smith, 1998). It occurs in the mesic to wet areas of Kauai, Maui, Lanai and Oahu and Molakai (Motooka et al., 2003).

In Cuba, the plant has gone wild in the cool rainy mountains in Sierra del Rosario, Pinar del Rio Province in the west, Escambray Mountains in the centre of the island and in Sierra Maestra in the very west of it.

In Nairobi, Kenya, H. coronarium is invasive along streams.

In South Africa, it is a declared weed of forests, plantations, riverbanks and moist, shaded sites (Category 1 plants): “These are prohibited plants that will no longer be tolerated, neither in rural nor urban areas, except with the written permission of the executive officer or in an approved biocontrol reserve. These plants may no longer be planted or propagated, and all trade in their seeds, cuttings or other propagative material is prohibited. They may not be transported or be allowed to disperse”. First recorded from Kruger National Park in 1999 (Foxcroft et al., 2008).

It is ironic that whilst awareness of invasive Hedychium spp. including H. coronarium, is on the rise worldwide, the humid submontane forest ecosystems from which they originate are fast becoming the most threatened ecosystems in the world and a number of wild gingers are listed as endangered by the Botanical Survey of India (Soares and Barreto, 2008).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


BangladeshPresentRahman and Yosuf, 1997; Govaerts, 2013
ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-GuangdongPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
-GuangxiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
-HunanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
-SichuanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
-YunnanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
IndiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
-AssamPresentNativeGogoi et al., 2002
-BiharPresentSaroj Chadha, 2005
-ChhattisgarhPresentTiwari et al., 2004
-KarnatakaPresentNativeBhandary et al., 1995
-Madhya PradeshPresentSaroj Chadha, 2005
-SikkimPresentNative Not invasive
-UttarakhandPresentOm et al., 2005
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedvan and Valkenburg Bunyapraphatsara, 2001; Govaerts, 2013
JapanPresentIntroduced Invasive Govaerts, 2013
-Bonin IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2007
MyanmarPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
NepalPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
PakistanPresentStewart, 1972
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced Invasive Nakatani et al., 1994; Govaerts, 2013
Sri LankaPresentPIER, 2007
TaiwanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
ThailandPresentNativePuangpen, 1998; Govaerts, 2013
VietnamPresentWu and Raven, 2000; Govaerts, 2013


GuineaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2013
KenyaPresentIntroduced Invasive Witt and Luke, 2017
MadagascarPresentIntroducedRasoanaivo and Gorce, 1998; Govaerts, 2013
MauritiusPresentIntroduced Invasive Gurib et al., 2002; Govaerts, 2013
RéunionPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2007
Rodriguez IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2007
Saint HelenaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2013
SeychellesPresentIntroducedRobertson, 1989
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Invasive Foxcroft and Richardson, 2003
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke, 2017Naturalized

North America

BermudaPresentIntroducedBritton, 1918
MexicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Villaseñor and Espinosa-Garcia, 2004
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FloridaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2003
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2003
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive HEAR, 2004; PIER, 2007Present in Maui, Moloka'i, O'ahu, Lana'i. Introduced and cultivated.
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2003

Central America and Caribbean

BelizePresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2013
Costa RicaPresentIntroduced Invasive Vargas, 2009
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Finlay, 2004; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012Sierra del Rosario, Pinar del Rio Province, central Escambray Mountains and west of Sierra Maestra
DominicaWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Potentially invasive
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedUniversiteit Utrecht, 2003
GuadeloupeWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Potentially invasive
GuatemalaPresentPIER, 2007
HaitiPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
HondurasPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2013
JamaicaPresentIntroduced Invasive Jamaica, 2004
MartiniqueWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Potentially invasive
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2013
PanamaPresentIntroduced Invasive Hertentains et al., 1998
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Medina and Woodbury, 1979; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2005
Saint LuciaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Graveson, 2012Preference for very wet semi-open spots, especially roadsides and forest rivers
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007Potentially invasive

South America

ArgentinaRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive Kissmann, 1997
BrazilRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982; Kissmann, 1997
-AlagoasPresentIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982
-BahiaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982; Kissmann, 1997
-CearaPresentIntroducedLorenzi, 1982
-Espirito SantoWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982; Kissmann, 1997
-MaranhaoPresentIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982; Macedo, 1997
-ParaPresentIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982
-ParaibaRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982
-ParanaRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982
-PernambucoRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982
-PiauiPresentIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982
-Rio de JaneiroWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982
-Rio Grande do NortePresentIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982
-Rio Grande do SulPresentIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982
-Santa CatarinaRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982
-Sao PauloRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982
-SergipeRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive Lorenzi, 1982
EcuadorPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2007Introduced and cultivated.
French GuianaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2013
GuyanaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2013
ParaguayRestricted distributionIntroducedPIER, 2007Naturalised.
PeruPresentOchoa and Andrade, 2003
SurinamePresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2013
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2013


PortugalPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AzoresPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2013


American SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive Brooks, 2000; Space and Flynn, 2000
AustraliaPresentIntroducedGeering and Thomas, 1997; PIER, 2013
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013Introduced and cultivated.
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive Sadaquat et al., 2002; PIER, 2013
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Lechat Vahirua et al., 1993Introduced and cultivated.
GuamPresentIntroducedPIER, 2007Introduced and cultivated.
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2007Introduced and cultivated.
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013Introduced and cultivated.
NauruPresentIntroducedPIER, 2007Introduced and cultivated.
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2007
PalauPresentIntroducedUSDA Forest Service, 2011
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroducedPIER, 2013
SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2007
TongaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2007Introduced and cultivated.
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2013

History of Introduction and Spread

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H. coronarium has been widely distributed by man because of its attractive flowers, fragrance and the possibility of other economic uses.


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H. coronarium grows in humus-rich, shaded or semi-shaded areas subjected to waterlogging. It is usually found along water margins and in shallow water but is never totally submerged (Joly and Brandle, 1995). It can also occur on the edges of shaded secondary forests. It is found at altitudes from sea level to 2500 m (van Valkenburg and Bunyapraphatsara, 2001).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Rail / roadsides Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Principal habitat Natural
Riverbanks Principal habitat Natural
Wetlands Principal habitat Natural
Irrigation channels Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Rivers / streams Principal habitat Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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Under ideal growing conditions, H. coronarium can choke most other vegetation by forming dense colonies. In Brazil it is a weed in banana and cocoa plantations (Kissmann, 1997).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Musa x paradisiaca (plantain)MusaceaeMain
Theobroma cacao (cocoa)MalvaceaeMain

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage

Biology and Ecology

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Physiology and Phenology

H. coronarium is a perennial plant which forms clones from rhizome buds. Flower development has been studied by Kirchoff (1997). The success of colonization and rapid proliferation of the species is partly due to its foliar architecture. H. coronarium can thrive in waterlogged soil and high light habitats. Only the youngest leaves are vertical and the number of stomata is higher on the abaxial face, with hypoderm, asymmetrical mesophyll and folding of the margins all of which appear to act as preventative measures against photoinhibition (Boeger et al., 2007).

Reproductive Biology

Reproduction is mainly vegetative, from parts of rhizomes, but also sexual. Spread by seeds is generally localized because the seeds are not produced in large numbers and are rarely displayed conspicuously (HEAR, 2004). However, the red aril that covers the seeds attracts a number of insects that may carry the seeds a short distance. H. coronarium does naturalize by seed in Hawaii and a recent survey showed it at altitudes as high as 2500 feet on east Maui. A spontaneous naturalizing hybrid between H. coronarium and H. gardnerianum has been found in Medeiros, Haleakala National Park Maui, Hawaii, which favours the simultaneous seed production of H. gardnerianum (P Bily, The Nature Conservancy, USA, personal communication, 2008). The flowers are zygomorphic, hermaphroditic and nectariferous and exhibit nocturnal anthesis, emitting a strong odour that can spread long distances. The staminodes attract floral visitors and the androecium is composed of a sole fertile stamen with pollen grains. The stigma is green, wet, concave and surrounded by uniform hairs. The species is self-incompatible, presenting low rates of fruit set and the flowering follows an annual pattern, showing asynchrony in the population level (Souza and Correia, 2007).

Environmental Requirements

H. coronarium can be found in tropical and subtropical regions. It favours waterlogged habitats with high temperatures all year round. The plants are susceptible to severe frost. As a cultivated plant it can live in upland gardens and even indoors. Partial sun to light shade is ideal but plants will tolerate considerable shade and even full sun if adequate moisture is available. Once established, it will tolerate seasonal droughts as well as more or less boggy conditions.


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A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Tolerated Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Tolerated Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • neutral

Soil texture

  • medium

Notes on Natural Enemies

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In Hawaii, the soilborne plant pathogenic bacterium Ralstonia solanacearum was isolated from a number of ginger species including H. coronarium. It causes a significant bacterial wilt disease and is spread naturally via soil water and root-root transmission, as well as artificially through wounds and agricultural practices.

A number of fungi have been recorded from Hedychium spp. and more than 20 fungi have been recorded from H. coronarium worldwide (Bussaban et al., 2002). A search of herbarium and fungal databases as well as recent National surveys in New Zealand and Brazil list the following:

Leafspots (Colletotrichum sp., Leptosphaeria sp., Mycosphaerella hedychii, Pestalotiopsis sp., Phoma sp.) from American Samoa; Cercospora apii, Mycosphaerella sp. from Venezuela; Alternaria sp., Cladosporium sp., Leptosphaeria sp. from the Caribbean and Cuba; Pestalotia microspora from Cuba; Cercospora hedychii from Hong Kong and Myanmar; Chalara aurea, Curvularia lunata var. aeria, Gonatophragmium mori, Pseudocercospora hedychii, Veronaea hedychii from Brazil; Macrophoma hedychii, Pestalotia funerea var. hedychii from Portugal; Pestalotia guepinii from the USA; Marasmius pseudobambusinus var. hawaiiensis, Rhizoctonia sp., Mycosphaerella hedychii, Hobsonia gigaspora, Phyllosticta sp. from Hawaii; as well as Bartalinia robillardoides, Fusarium oxyspermum, Drechlsera and a stem ascomycete from India.

Soares and Barreto (2008) also give a comprehensive review of the fungal pathogens found on H. coronarium in Brazil and evaluate their potential as biocontrol agents.

H. coronarium is listed as the host plant of a number of lepidopterans (Natural History Museum database, UK) including: several Caligo spp. (Nymphalidae) and Calpodes ethlius (Noctuid) from Brazil, Spodoptera litura (Noctuid) and Udaspes folus (Hesperiidae) from Hong Kong, and Jamides alecto from Japan and Taiwan.

H. coronarium is reported to be an alternative host to banana bunchy-top virus (BBTV) in Taiwan (Csurhes and Hannan-Jones, 2008). In Queensland, the BBTV vector banana black aphid, Pentalonia nigronervosa, is reported from H. coronarium (Geering and Thomas, 1997). However, attempts by DPI&F to inoculate H. coronarium with an Australian isolate of BBTV (BBTV-482) failed (Geering and Thomas, 1997), as did an attempt in India with an Indian isolate (Csurhes and Hannan-Jones, 2008). Geering and Thomas (1997) suggested that the difference in susceptibility of H. coronarium to BBTV could be explained by strains with different biological properties. Australian and Indian strains belong to South Pacific sequence group while those in Taiwan to the Asian Group (Karan et al., 1994). An alternative hypothesis put forward by Geering and Thomas was that there was variation in the presence of resistance genes to the virus in the populations of H. coronarium. Whatever the susceptibility of H. coronarium to BBTV in Queensland, it can still play a part in the epidemiology of BBTV by acting as a reservoir of the virus vector P. nigronervosa.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (non-biotic)

Parts of rhizomes and capsules can float to new locations in water systems.

Vector Transmission (biotic)

Insects carry seeds over short distances, attracted by the brightly coloured aril.

Accidental Introduction

When cutting and removing plants, pieces of rhizome can become detached, drop to the ground and start a new infestation.

Intentional introduction

Man is responsible for the long-distance dispersal of H. coronarium by planting rhizomes for the ornamental value of the flowers. It has been noted to escape from gardens (van Valkenburg and Bunyapraphatsara, 2001).

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Floating vegetation and debris Yes
Germplasm Yes
Machinery and equipment Yes
Mail Yes
Plants or parts of plants Yes
Water Yes

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms

Impact Summary

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Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production Negative
Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health None
Livestock production None
Native fauna None
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel Negative


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Activities related to the use of water (e.g. hydroelectric plants) in infested areas may be affected and there will be costs associated with its control in banana and cocoa plantations.

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

Under favourable growing conditions, H. coronarium can disturb water flow in channels. It can invade canals, streams and other shallow water areas.

Impact on Biodiversity

H. coronarium can dominate other species in waterlogged areas. Under favourable conditions, the plant can form extensive thickets which may suppress the regeneration of native wetland plants. In Minas Gerais, Brazil, it is a serious invader in the Estação Ecológica do Tripuí, a nature reserve created to protect the habitat of Peripatus acacioi (Onychophora), a rare and evolutionarily interesting invertebrate, which has now been dislodged to the lower plain areas by the occurrence of H. coronarium (Soares and Barreto, 2008).

H. coronarium is a threat to Clermontia samuelii on Maui in Hawaii, whereas on Lanai Labordia tinifolia var. lanaiensis is threatened by H. coronarium (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1999). In Saint Lucia it may be replacing the rare indigenous orchid Habenaria monorrhiza (Krauss, 2012).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Clermontia samueliiCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)HawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resources
Habenaria monorrhizaNational list(s) National list(s)Saint LuciaCompetition - monopolizing resourcesKrauss, 2012
Labordia tinifolia var. lanaiensisNational list(s) National list(s)HawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resources
Peripatus acacioiNational list(s) National list(s)Minas GeraisCompetition - monopolizing resources

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts cultural/traditional practices
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Competition
  • Hybridization
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
  • Difficult/costly to control


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H. coronarium is mainly used for ornamental purposes, in gardens and as cut flowers. The fragrant flowers are used extensively in garlands (or leis) in India, Japan and Hawaii. It is the national flower of Cuba where it is known as the white butterfly because of the shape of its flower. It is used in bouquets for brides, on altars and as offerings for the dead (Finlay, 2004). Essential oils from the flowers are used to make high grade perfumes in Hawaii, China and Brazil (van Valkenburg and Bunyapraphatsara, 2001). The Gulbakawali Ark (extract) sold in the Chhattisgarh region of India, is an extract from the flower. The flowers are collected and Ark (extract) is collected through an indigenous method of steam distillation. In Spanish colonial times, women used to adorn themselves with the flowers because of their incredible fragrance and the intricate structure of the inflorescence was used by women to hide and carry secret messages important to the independence cause. It is said that a guajiro's (farmer's) house is not complete without a white ginger in its garden.

The rhizomes are edible and have been used for starch extraction. They have also been used a source of cellulose for paper manufacture and fibre for textiles (Macedo, 1997). The flowers are also eaten, lightly steamed and served with a chilli sauce in Thailand (PIER, 2007).

Native Hawaiians refer to white ginger as ‘awapuhi’, using the juice of mature seed as a hair and skin treatment. The species is said to have been introduced by settlers in Hawaii.

Several medicinal uses of the rhizome and stem bases are also reported in the literature and include diuretic, hypertensive, antidiabetic, antisyphilitic and antifungal properties (Lechat Vahirua et al., 1993; Bhandary et al., 1995; Macedo, 1997). The rhizomes are also the source of essential oil that is used in perfumery and pharmaceutical preparations. The rhizome of gulbakawali is used in Chinese natural medicine and has been prescribed and used in the treatment of headache, lancinating pain, inflammatory and intense pain due to rheumatism, etc. It also has uses as a tonic, excitant and anti-rheumatic in the Ayurvedic system.

Uses List

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  • Amenity
  • Landscape improvement


  • Fuelwood


  • Botanical garden/zoo
  • Capital accumulation
  • Ritual uses
  • Sociocultural value
  • Souvenirs

Human food and beverage

  • Flour/starch


  • Oils

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore


  • Cut flower
  • Propagation material
  • Seed trade

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page The epidermal morphology of the leaves of 12 species of Zingiberaceae has been studied by Gogoi et al. (2002) and a key produced.

Prevention and Control

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Mechanical Control

Because this plant can regenerate from rhizomes, mechanical removal is often unsuccessful. Its adaptation to fire is unknown but unless the fire is intense enough to harm the rhizomes it will recover.

Chemical Control

Research in Panama showed that picloram combined with 2,4-D and sprayed onto plants 22 and 60 days after sprouting resulted in over 90% control of H. coronarium compared with 36% control using the cheaper farmers' practice of diesel plus 2,4-D (Hertentains et al., 1998). Single applications are not suitable because of regrowth from the rhizomes. In Hawaii, H. coronarium was found to be sensitive to foliar applications of picloram, very sensitive to metsulfuron and moderately susceptible to triclopyr (Motooka et al., 2003).

Biological control

A research project has been ongoing since 2008 to investigate the potential for classical biological control of invasive Hedychium species for a consortium of sponsors from New Zealand and Hawaii. Surveys to the native range in 2008-2010 revealed a large suite of natural enemies associated with H. coronarium, but the focus of the research will be on H. gardnerianum, which is the most pernicious of the invasive Hedychium complex. (D Djeddour, CABI E- UK, personal communication, 2011).


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Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Instituto Horus invasives database


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01/08/2008 Updated by:

Djamila Djeddour, CAB Europe - UK, Bakeham Lane, Egham, Surrey TW20 9TY, UK

07/07/13 Updated by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Distribution Maps

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