Hedychium gracile  W. Roxburgh, Hortus Bengalensis : 1 (1814) (nomen) and Plants of the Coast of Coromandel 3: 48 & t. 251 (1819).

Accepted name

Hedychium gracile  W. Roxburgh, Hortus Bengalensis : 1 (1814) (nomen) and Plants of the Coast of Coromandel 3: 48 & t. 251 (1819).

Comments Roxburgh's reference to the name Hedychium gracile in Hortus Bengalensis is here; his note of Hedychium gracile from Plants of the coast of Coromandel 1819 is at http://www.botanicus.org/page/280290; and his note from Flora Indica 1 : 12 1820 is at http://www.botanicus.org/page/787290. J. D. Hooker's illustration and notes on Hedychium gracile from Curtis's botanical magazine t. 6638 (1882) is at http://www.botanicus.org/page/465334 et seq.

There is a small drawing identified by Roxburgh (Plant of the Coast of Coromandel 3: 48) as being of Hedychium gracile in the lower right hand corner of a watercolour painting of Hedychium angustifolium commissioned by Roxburgh for the Flora indica.  The painting of Hedychium angustifolium is Roxburgh number 2154 (see Roxburgh's Flora Indica website) and also features in Plants of the Coast of Coromandel 3: t. 251 (available at http://www.botanicus.org/page/280421).  In his notes on Hedychium gracile in Curtis's botanical magazine (loc. cit.) Hooker is rather dismissive of this drawing noting "I have not quoted [this] figure [ ] because it is so bad a representation, if indeed really belonging to this plant."

Hedychium gracile is a charming little species from the Himalayan foothills of north-eastern India yet is barely known in cultivation. Hedychium gracile flowers at about 1 m tall with spikes of spidery white flowers with salmon-pink filaments. The strain of Hedcyhium gracile I have grown (from Ganesh Mani Pradhan) has conspicuously red bracts but more commonly the bracts are green.  Also, in my material the corolla tube is distinctly hairy which is not reported for Hedychium gracile and seems an uncommon feature in Hedychium in general. Further the flowers of Hedychium gracile are said by some to be delightfully fragrant in the evenings but I have not detected a very strong scent despite our plants flowering extremely well under glass. In north-eastern India, women sometimes use the delicate flowers to decorate their hair.

Hedychium gracile makes an extremely attractive pot plant for the cool greenhouse or conservatory although it may be stood outside in summer in light shade. Once you have sufficient material it could be tried in the garden in a sheltered spot although will probably flower too late to be of much use in the garden.

Plants in the UK trade listed as Hedychium griffithianum are the same as Hedychium gracile including having a hairy corolla tube. I do not mean to imply that, botanically, Hedychium griffithianum is synonymous with Hedychium gracile.

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last updated 01/10/2008