Friday, 30 December 2011

Flowering gingerly

When I go to Cairns — which is hardly ever, because it is hot and full of people — I usually visit the Flecker Botanical Gardens. Although quite small, the Gardens have some excellent displays, including an extensive  collection of gingers and heliconias.

If I had space to grow exotics, I'd start a similar collection. Until that time, I'm happy to enjoy the fans of native gingers along the forest edge.

Booroogum or pleated ginger (Alpinia arctiflora) is flowering at the moment. It is a favourite of the tooth-billed bowerbird, who snips off the ripple-edged leaves to decorate his arena just at the back of the house. [Note: Plant misidentified as A. caerulea in that post.] This bird is particular about not only the species used in his display, but also the quality of the leaves. He harvests them from a small number of individual plants, considering them carefully before taking them away.

I'm not sure if the booroogum is commonly cultivated, but it would be a splendid plant for a moist and shady spot. Preferably one free of leaf-snipping bowerbirds. The flowers are short-lived, especially when battered by rain, but are splendid while they last.

Only a few flowers open at a time

At the edge of the forest

Surviving competitors

Surviving the rain

Pleated or rippled leaves

Distribution of Alpinia arctiflora
© 2009 Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria Inc.


mick said...

Lovely looking ginger and it is obviously kept in control by your birds. When I first came here I planted different gingers and heliconias - I didn't realize that they go crazy in an environment that suits them. They took over!! I am still struggling to get rid of the last of them.

Snail said...

That's what's stopping me from doing it here, mick! The only way I could have exotic gingers and heliconias planted in the ground would be to set up buffer zones and root barriers to prevent them spreading. It doesn't take long for them to get going --- as you know!