Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Alpinia arctiflora (F.Muell.) Benth.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Leaves and Flowers. © B. Gray
Fruits. © CSIRO
Fruit, side view, dehiscing and cross section. © W. T. Cooper
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, hypogeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Bentham, G. (1873) Flora Australiensis 6: 266.

Common name

Booroogum; Ginger, Pleated; Ginger, Snow; Pleated Ginger; Snow Ginger


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrubby plant about 2-3 m tall but it should be noted that only the leaves are above ground level. The true stem is below the soil surface.


Leaf blades shortly petiolate, up to about 50 x 10 cm, pubescent on the underside, ligule about 0.3-1 cm long, shallowly bilobed and shortly pubescent. Petioles short, about 0.5 cm long.


Inflorescence terminal, pubescent, up to 20 cm long. Bracts lanceolate up to 6 cm long, pubescent on the margins, subtending a group of six or more flowers. Bracteoles tubular to 7 cm long, pedicels to 8 cm long. Calyx about 15-20 mm long. Corolla tube about 40 mm long, lobes to 15 mm long. Labellum obovate, about 20 x 20 mm, shallowly bilobed at the apex. Anther subsessile, about 12-15 mm long, crest at the top of the anther about 4-6 mm long. Ovary about 8-10 mm long, pubescent.


Capsules grey, pubescent, about 30-45 mm long, ellipsoid to allantoid. Calyx lobes persistent at the apex. Inner surface of the capsule lined with white matted hairs. Seeds numerous, each with a long slender, white funicle to 20 mm long and a thin, white or translucent aril. Testa surface rugose. Embryo ampulliform.


First true leaf +/- cordate, leaf blade about 12-15 mm long, petiole long and slender (about 20-30 mm) much longer than the leaf blade. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves lanceolate or elliptic, shortly petiolate or sessile, ligule pubescent. Leaf blade about 20 x 4 cm. Lateral veins fine and parallel. Midrib depressed on the upper surface. Leaves emerge from the stem rolled lengthways +/- like a cigar. Leaves slightly aromatic when crushed. Seed germination time 23 to 63 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to NEQ. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 1150 m. Grows in disturbed areas in well developed lowland, upland and mountain rain forest.

Natural History & Notes

Fruit eaten by Cassowaries. Cooper & Cooper (1994).

A large and attractive ginger that does well in a shaded moist location. The large white terminal flowers are fragrant.

Hellenia arctiflora F.Muell., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 8: 25(1874), Type: Queensland, Rockingham Bay, 29 Jan. 1865, J. Dallachy s.n.; lecto : MEL. Fide R. M. Smith, Fl. Australia 45: 453 (1987).
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