Zingiberaceae

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Ginger Family

Renealmia alpinia (Rottb.) Maas, a giant herb in the Zingiberaceae. Note that the inflorescence stalk comes directly from the ground. The flowers and bracts are much less tightly packed together than in Costus, and the veins are steeply angled toward the midrib. Una hierba gigantesca. Note que el tallo de la inflorescencia sale directamente del suelo. Las flores y brácteas son menos comprimidas que las de Costus, y las venas tienen un ángulo agudo con respecto al eje central.


Description: Zingiberaceae resemble some of the smaller-leaved Heliconiaceae. They have simple, alternate, entire leaves. The plants can become very large, though not as large as Heliconiaceae. The best distinguishing character is their strong ginger smell. Also, the leaf sheath is always closed around the stem. The inflorescences of Zingiberaceae can be borne at the end of the stalk, but frequently they come out of the ground on a separate stem (hence the common name “torch flower” for several cultivated Renealmia species).

Economic uses: Ginger comes from Zingiber officinale, native to India. Many species are grown as ornamentals in the tropics.


Descripción: Las Zingiberaceas se asemejan a algunas Heliconiaceas con hojas pequeñas. Ambas tienen hojas simples, alternas, y enteras. Las Zingiberaceas algunas veces llegan a ser de gran tamaño, aunque no tan grandes como las Heliconiaceas. La mejor característica diagnóstica para distinguir las dos familias es el olor fuerte de jengibre en las Zingiberaceas. También la vaina peciolar, que siempre cierra alrededor del tallo en las Zingiberaceas. Las inflorescencias de las Zingiberaceas algunas veces salen del extremo del tallo, pero mas frecuentemente nacen de tallos pequeños, sin hojas, que salen directamente del suelo.

Usos económicos: El jengibre es el raíz de Zingiber officinale, originalmente de India. Muchas especies se cultivan como ornamentales.


Genera/species at La Selva: 3/7. Alpinia (1), Hedychium (1), Renealmia (5).




FIELD MARKS – alternate leaves in two ranks, ginger odor.


Alpinia purpurata, native to Melanesia, is widely cultivated as an ornamental.
Alpinia purpurata, native to Melanesia, is widely cultivated as an ornamental.
Etlinger elatior or Torch Ginger is a cultivated species native to Malaysia (also known as Alpinia elatior).
Renealmia pluriplicata is a native ginger with an inflorescence that is borne on a separate stalk.
The inflorescence of Renealmia pluriplicata arises from the base of the plant on a separate stalk.
Renealmia cernua inflorescence.
Renealmia cernua is a native ginger with an inflorescence that is borne at the tip of the stem. Note the alternate leaves.
Renealmia alipinia inflorescence originates from the ground, rather than at the tip of an existing leafy stem.
An ornamental plant, Zingiber spectabile is commonly refered to as “beehive ginger” due to the shape of its inflorescence. This plant was spotted in the dense secondary growth near the SAZ trail.
Flowers of Zingiber spectabile.
Renealmia pluriplicata inflorescence.


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