Hedychium forrestii Hort.  

Accepted name

Hedychium forrestii Hort.

Comments The name Hedychium forrestii Hort. (i.e. of gardens) is used to distinguish this plant from Hedychium forrestii Diels which is the true species.  Hedychium forrestii Hort. is not Hedychium forrestii at all but another and as yet unnamed species.

The plant I am calling Hedychium forrestii Hort. is widely distributed in gardens in the south west of England.  The origin of the material in cultivation adds to its mystery. To quote from Tony Schilling’s 1982 article on Hedychium in the first series of The Plantsman, “all plants in Britain would seem to have originated from plants sent to the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh by Dr J F Rock in 1957 from ‘P.O. Box 497 Honolulu’. The plants were incorrectly labelled Hedychium gardnerianum. Unless Rock’s field notes can throw further light on the subject of origin the story of the introduction must stop here.”  I think that Rock's field notes are in Hawai'i and so for the time being the story does indeed stop here.

Because of Rock’s collection activities it is presumed that this plant originated in China but the plant does not key out in the Flora of China.

Whatever this plant is, it is one of the best Hedychium for the garden. It is a robust, handsome, hardy plant with dark green leaves flowering reliably at about 1.5 m tall, more when grown under protection. It has almost pure white flowers with a slight and not especially pleasant scent and with up to three flowers per bract. Seed is regularly produced and when ripe the green seed capsules burst open to reveal their orange linings with the seeds enclosed in bright red arils.

Hedychium forrestii Hort. is readily available in the UKThe RHS Plant Finder (2008 - 2009) incorrectly lists many nurseries as offering Hedychium forrestii Diels when what they are really selling is Hedychium forrestii Hort. (or in some cases Hedychium spicatum).  The Plant Finder makes no value judgement as to the veracity of the names supplied by nurseries that it lists.

For a comparison of Hedychium forrestii Hort. and Hedychium forrestii Diels go here.


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last updated 26/09/2008