Horticulture Heading


Book cover - Common Weeds of New ZealandAn Illustrated Guide to
Common Weeds
of New Zealand


Hedychium gardnerianum
Kahili ginger


Reproduced from
Common Weeds of New Zealand
by Ian Popay, Paul Champion & Trevor James
ISBN 0 473 09760 5
by kind permission of the
New Zealand Plant Protection Society

Publication or other use of images or descriptive text on these pages is unauthorised unless written permission is obtained from the authors and publisher.
Appropriate acknowledgement of the publication Common Weeds of New Zealand must always be given.

Available from Touchwood Books

Hedychium gardnerianum - Kahili ginger Hedychium gardnerianum - Kahili ginger

Fragrant, leafy, rhizomatous, semi-tropical perennial herb up to 2 m tall, with magnificent display of large, conspicuous yellow flowers in late summer, followed by scarlet seeds in capsules. Major problem of conservation areas in Auckland and further north.

  • Flowers Pale lemon-yellow with conspicuous red stamens, fragrant, in large open inflorescence 25-45 cm long. The narrow bracts do not overlap, and each envelopes two flowers. The corolla tube is about 5 cm long, with a two-lobed labellum. Flowers Feb-Mar.
  • Fruit Three-valved capsule, 15-18 mm long, orange on the inside, containing numerous bright scarlet, shining seeds, each 6 x 4 mm.
  • Leaves Lance-shaped, 20-45 cm long by 10-15 cm wide, short-stalked, tapering to a point.
  • Stems Leafy, erect.
  • Roots Large tuberous rhizomes.


Road-sides and damp places.


Common in North Auckland, very common in and around Auckland City, common in Coromandel Peninsula, Kawhia, Bay of Plenty, Opotiki, and Gisborne City, and in Nelson-Buller area in SI. Originally from South Africa.


Listed on the National Pest Plant Accord (see Introduction for details).

Related species

Yellow ginger (Hedychium flavescens) is somewhat taller, up to 3 m, with off-white to cream flowers in a cone-like inflorescence, with the bracts strongly overlapping. Seed is not produced. Common in northern NI on road-sides, forest margins, stream-sides. This species is subject to a Pest Plant Management Strategy in Taranaki. Listed on the National Pest Plant Accord (see Introduction for details).

Derivation of botanical name

Hedychium (Gr.) = sweet snow, meaning the fragrant white flowers of some species; gardnerianum after Edward Gardner, political resident in Nepal.

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Last updated: July 13, 2014