White ginger is an invasive herbaceous plant native to the Himalayas and southwestern China.
It was introduced to Hawaii by Chinese immigrants as an ornamental in 1888. Today, it is invasive on all the main islands. Particularly hard hit Kamakou Preserve, Kalopa State Park, Nahiku, Wailau Valley, and Puna and Kohala Mountains, Hawai’i.
White ginger is shade tolerant but also grows in the full sun. It rarely produces seed. Instead, rhizomes move into wet, shaded places to invade. It forms dense, single-species stands all from vegetative reproduction. Creeping horizontal plant stems or runners root at points along their length to form new plants. Because of the intense vegetative spread, mechanical removal is extremely difficult. A new stand can grow from one small rhizome piece. Machinery used to cut brush on roadsides is sometimes responsible for the spread.
As a Category 12 invasive plant, white ginger is prohibited from trade in South Africa. It is known as an alternative host to the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV).
Description and Dispersal:
- An herbaceous upright plant.
- Leaves 2-ranked, alternately arranged.
- Leaf margins entire, midrib prominent on the dorsal face. Smooth and glabrous on both surfaces, intense green, glossy.
- White flowers resemble butterflies.
- Reproduction is mainly vegetative, from parts of rhizomes, but also sexual.