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 the rain|
|Pleated or rippled leaves|
Distribution of Alpinia arctiflora
© 2009 Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria Inc.