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Plants of the UNF Campus

Alpinia zerumbet - Shell ginger
Family Zingiberaceae



The genus Alpinia is reported to be the largest genus in the ginger family with over two hundred species native to Asia. The shell ginger is evergreen most winters but may die to the ground and recover in spring as a result of winter lows in the low to mid-20’s F. The typical green form can reach ten feet in height. The variegated form is shorter, reaching about three to four feet tall. The foliage is fragrant when crushed. Flowering is not reliable in north Florida because flowers are produced only on two year old stalks that have not been damaged by cold, winter weather. After a mild winter, flower spikes are produced on arching spikes at the stalk tips. 



The wild, green type can be seen along the southern wall of building 8 in OutTakes Plaza. A horticultural selection with variegated leaves can be seen on the east side of building 2.


Herbaceous plant ranging in height from four feet (variegated form) to ten feet (green form.)

Care Instructions:

Light: full sun to part shade

Water: moderately drought tolerant once established, irrigation may be beneficial during droughts especially for plants growing in sun

Soil: average soil, wide pH tolerance, no special requirements


This is a bold plant in the north Florida landscape. Although it can grow in sun, shell ginger looks its best with the least amount of care when grown in the shade. The variegated form is more common found in nurseries. Both the variegated and green forms are easy to grow in the north Florida garden. In exceptionally cold winters, it may die to the ground and recover the following spring.


Alpinia zerumbet