Alpinia zerumbet (Shell Ginger)

Alpinia zerumbet on 9-3-09, #31-34. Pot #1.

Shell Ginger

Alpinia zerumbet

al-PIN-ee-uh  ZER-um-bet

Synonyms of Alpinia zerumbet (21) (Updated on 1-18-23 from Plants of the World Online):  Alpinia cristata Griff. (1851), Alpinia engleriana K.Schum. (1898), Alpinia fimbriata Gagnep. (1904), Alpinia fluvitialis Hayata (1915), Alpinia nutans K.Schum. (1889)(nom. illeg.), Alpinia nutans var. longiramosa Gagnep. (1902), Alpinia oceanica Burkill (1896), Alpinia penicillata Roscoe (1816), Alpinia rechingeri (Gagnep.) Loes. (1930)(nom. illeg.), Alpinia schumanniana Valeton (1904), Alpinia speciosa (J.C.Wendl.) K.Schum. (1889)(nom. illeg.), Alpinia speciosa var. longiramosa Gagnep. (1901)), Amomum nutans (Andrews) Schult. (1822), Catimbium speciosum (J.C.Wendl.) Holttum (1950), Costus zerumbet Pers. (1805), Guillainia rechingeri Gagnep. (1908), Languas schumanniana (Valeton) Sasaki (1924), Languas speciosa (J.C.Wendl.) Small (1913), Renealmia nutans Andrews (1804), Renealmia spectabilis Rusby (1927), Zerumbet speciosum J.C.Wendl. (1801)

Alpinia zerumbet (Pers.) B.L.Burtt & R.M.Sm. is the accepted scientific name of this species of Alpinia. It was described as such by Brian Laurence Burtt and Rosemary Margaret Smith in Notes From The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh in 1972. It was previously named Costus zerumbet Pers. by Christiaan Hendrik Persoon in Synopsis Plantarum 3 in 1805. BUT the FIRST scientific name for the Shell Ginger was Zerumbet speciosum J.C.Wendl. It was named by Johann Christoph Wendland in Sertum Hannoveranum in 1798.

The genus, Alpinia Roxb., was named and described as such by William Roxburgh in Asiatic Research, or Transactions of the Society in 1810.

As of 1-18-23 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 244 species in the Alpinia genus. It is a member of the plant family Zingiberaceae with 57 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.


Alpinia zerumbet #1 at 27″ tall on the front porch of the mansion on 12-18-09, #45-26.

When Suzanne was on a plant buying spree on Ebay, she had bought a lot from Wellspring Gardens. The package arrived and I took the plants out of the box and later put them in larger pots. Around that time, Suzanne had become ill and I didn’t pay much attention to what she had ordered compared to what she had received. After she passed away and I had started the Mystical Mansion and Garden blog, I decided to have a closer look at the order and labels of the plants I had. They didn’t make sense. SO, I sent a message to the owner of Wellspring Gardens and told him the labels didn’t match what the order was for. He said that they must have sent the wrong plants and he would resend them. I told him I didn’t want what she had ordered, so he allowed me to order what I wanted as replacements. I ordered even more and it cost me an additional $18.00.

Alpinia zerumbet #3 at 23″ tall on 12-18-09, #45-27.

Three of the plants shipped wrong were Lemon Ginger. I don’t remember the abbreviation on the labels, though. In fact, the plants were not Lemon Ginger at all. They turned out to be Shell Ginger which is Alpinia zerumbet. Currently, the Lemon Ginger is Monocostus uniflorus. At least that was the correct name last time I checked.

Alpinia zerumbet #1 at 36″ on 10-22-10, #62-1.

I will admit, being new to the south I wasn’t used to what plants were hardy there and what weren’t. I was bringing them inside for the winter like the rest of the potted plants when I could have put them in the ground. I kept most of the plants in the two front sunrooms on the first floor during the winter and moved them to the front porch if temperatures allowed.

Alpinia zerumbet #1 on 6-2-12, #95-34.

I left the Shell Ginger in pot #1 but I planted #2 and 3 in the ground.

Alpinia zerumbet on 10-27-12, #125-2.

I put one of the pots in the ground in the bed by the west sunroom. I think I may have done that in 2011. Anyway, this nice clump measured 45″ tall when I measured it on 7-2-12.

Alpinia zerumbet on 11-22-12, #130-2.

I had planted one of the pots next to the old goldfish pool in the backyard. I also put a few in the flower bed behind the den.

As far as plants go, the Alpinia zerumbet quickly became one of my favorites even though I acquired them by accident. I never cooked with their roots, although I could have. I really am not a big fan of ginger unless it is used very sparingly, but it has numerous health benefits besides adding a lot of punch to recipes.

This plant SPREADS very nicely and will fill in the gaps and won’t make you mad doing it. The only thing that will make you mad is if you plant it for flowers… ONLY once did I see a flower and it was almost faded by the time I saw it because I wasn’t expecting it. The flowers I saw were on #1 that was still in the pot.


Alpinia zerumbet on 6-8-13, #151-6.

When I moved back to Missouri in February 2013, I decided to take pot #1 with me. The 8-9 hour drive in a 30-degree trailer put the Alpina zerumbet right into dormancy…

Alpinia zerumbet on 6-8-13, #151-7.

I decided to remove the rhizomes from the pot and place them around this old elm tree next to my grandmother’s old goldfish pool. I had moved to my grandparent’s farm when my grandfather passed away in April 1981. I had made a flower bed all the way around the fish pool and put a brick sidewalk all the way around it. Back then, that tree wasn’t there. I moved away in 1987 and my dad later moved in a manufactured home where one of grandpa’s gardens had been. The old house was torn down and the flower beds I had built were no more. When I agreed to move back to the farm in February 2013, dad told me I could do what I wanted… That was the third time I had been told that by three different people. All three times they had no idea what they were saying and didn’t realize what was about to happen…

Alpinia zerumbet on 8-23-13, #178-23.

Well, although they did grow… Not as well as I had hoped, though.

Alpinia zerumbet on 10-7-13, #193-26.

I must admit that I did not manage the Shell Ginger very well here. I should have probably left some in pots instead of putting them all in the ground. I knew I was supposed to dig them up and bring them inside for the winter, but I didn’t… SO, that was the end of my Alpina zerumbet. Maybe someday I will buy another plant and keep it in a pot…

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.


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