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Alpinia zerumbet 3.jpg
Alpinia zerumbet
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Zingiberaceae
Subfamily: Alpinioideae
Tribe: Alpinieae
Genus: Alpinia
Roxb., 1810

See text

Alpinia is a genus of flowering plants in the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. It is named for Prospero Alpini, a 17th-century Italian botanist who specialized in exotic plants.[1] Species are native to Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands, where they occur in tropical and subtropical climates.[2] Several species are cultivated as ornamental plants.[3] Species of the genus are known generally as shell ginger.[3][4]


These herbs lack true stems, but have pseudostems usually up to about 3 metres (9.8 ft) long which are composed of the overlapping leaf sheaths.[2][3] A few species have been known to reach 8 metres (26 ft).[5] They grow from thick rhizomes. The leaves are lance-shaped to oblong. The inflorescence takes the form of a spike, a panicle, or a raceme. It may be hooded in bracts and bracteoles. The flower has a shallowly toothed calyx which is sometimes split on one side. The flower corolla is a cylindrical tube with three lobes at the mouth, the middle lobe larger and hoodlike in some taxa. There is one fertile stamen and two staminodes, which are often joined into a petal-like labellum, a structure that is inconspicuous in some species and quite showy in others. The fruit is a rounded, dry or fleshy capsule.[2][3] The plants are generally aromatic due to their essential oils.[6]

Alpinia hainanensis ' Shengzhen'
Alpinia hainanensis ' Shengzhen'


Most Alpinia are plants of forest understory habitat. Most are pollinated by large bees, but some are pollinated by birds and bats.[5]


This is the largest genus in the ginger family,[5] with about 230 species.[2][3][5] A number of those are commonly grown for their flowers, and others are used as spices. Species include:[7]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Simonetti, G. (1990). Stanley Schuler (ed.). Simon & Schuster's Guide to Herbs and Spices. Simon & Schuster, Inc. ISBN 0-671-73489-X.
  2. ^ a b c d Alpinia. Flora of China.
  3. ^ a b c d e Alpinia. Flora of North America.
  4. ^ Alpinia. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
  5. ^ a b c d Kress, W. J., et al. (2005). "The molecular phylogeny of Alpinia (Zingiberaceae): a complex and polyphyletic genus of gingers". American Journal of Botany 92(1), 167-78.
  6. ^ Victório, C. P. (2011). "Therapeutic value of the genus Alpinia, Zingiberaceae". Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia 21(1), 194-201.
  7. ^ Alpinia. The Plant List.
  8. ^ Alpinia hainanensis ' Shengzhen'. "Alpinia hainanensis ' Shengzhen'". Flower View. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-09-12.