Native Ginger or Alpinia caerulea

Plant Profile

A Blue-banded Bee forages on a flower spike.

Also known as:

  • Red Back Ginger (subspecies from the Atherton Tablelands)
The lovely red of the Red Back variety.

Growing Conditions:

  • Shade, will tolerate part shade
  • Moist, well-draining soil (tolerates sandy soil)
  • Protect from frost
  • Pots, garden beds, rockeries, gaps, narrow gardens, hedges, as a screening plant
  • Flowers late Spring/Summer
  • Fruits follow flowers in Summer/early Autumn

Propagation

  • root division – click here to see a video on root division
  • seed (8 weeks to germination)

Uses

  • edible root
  • edible berries (don’t eat the seeds!) – click here to see a video on harvesting the seeds
  • leaves can be used to wrap food before cooking
  • edible new shoots
  • leaves and stems were used to make shelters and other craft items by Indigenous Australians
  • Chop and drop mulch
  • Ecosystem services (lizards, pollinators, birds)
The gorgeous bright blue berries!

This plant is a wonderful way to find buzz-pollinating bees in your garden. It delivered my first Teddy Bear Bee sighting and numerous Blue-banded Bee sightings.

My first sighting of a Teddy Bear Bee!

It is a classic understorey plant from subtropical and tropical rainforests and can therefore be used in shady places in our gardens to provide attractive foliage and edible harvests.

The root can be used in the same way as traditional ginger or chewed raw. It also produces edible bright blue berries that taste like lemony ginger and are quite refreshing, especially on a hot day.

The roots are a beautiful pink colour.

The whole fruit can be dried and ground and used as a spice. Tender new shoots can be used to add a mild ginger flavour to dishes.

Fancy a sour flavour and red colouring for your herbal tea, pop the whole fruit in the infusion!

Indigenous Australians ate the lemon-ginger flavoured berries after discarding the seeds, to activate saliva and moisten the mouth when on walkabout. According to local folklore, discarded seeds helped to establish tracks for others to follow.

Wishing you tracks of gingery goodness,

Jane

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