Hedychium densiflorum N. Wallich, Hooker's Journal of Botany, 5: 368 (1853).

Accepted name

Hedychium densiflorum N. Wallich, Hooker's Journal of Botany, 5: 368 (1853).

Distribution Hedychium densiflorum ranges from the Himalayan foothills of eastern Nepal westwards to north-western Yunnan and south into northern Thailand.  It is a high altitude species ranging reportedly from about 1,400 to 2,750 m.  Material in cultivation in the UK currently seems to be confined to collections from the western part of the plant's range, the easternmost type being LS&H 17393 from Bhutan.

Despite the relatively restricted sampling of material available in the UK there is great variability in the available material in terms of plant height, flower colour and size.

The typical flower colour is a shade of orange, anything from yellow to deep orange but forms with pink flowers also occur. The most intriguing group are those we have distinguished as the large-flowered forms which were all collected from a relatively small area of Nepal to the south and east of Kathmandu. One can only speculate what other forms might still await discovery.

As far as I know, all of the forms of Hedychium densiflorum cultivated in the UK were initially wild collected plants that have been propagated in cultivation. There seem to be two distinct groups, those with relatively small flowers and those with relatively large flowers. Cultivated material can give a misleading impression of the variability of the species in the wild. Plants we see as being distinctly different may be separated in the wild by a range of intermediate types blurring the distinction, for example, between "small" and "large". Nevertheless, the "large-flowered" types do seem distinct. In separating off the large-flowered types I do not mean to imply that the small-flowered types are not garden worthy and indeed the latter group includes two of the best for the garden, 'Assam Orange' and LS&H 17393.

Wallich's notes on Hedychium densiflorum are at http://www.botanicus.org/page/784349

Large-flowered types

'Stephen' (A. D. Schilling 870)
A. D. Schilling 582

Small flowered types

Ludlow, Sherriff & Hicks 17393
'Assam Orange' (Kingdon Ward 13875)
E. Needham 562
'Kalimpong Yellow'
'Kalimpong Gold'
UK 4 from GMP
ex Charmian King


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last updated 25/09/2008