Hedychium wardii C. E. C. Fischer, Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew 1936: 283 (1936).

Accepted name

Hedychium wardii C. E. C. Fischer, Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew 1936: 283 (1936).

Synonyms Hedychium efilamentosum H. Handel-Mazzetti, Symb. Sin. 7: 1319 (1936).
Comments Hedychium wardii is a little known species recently introduced into cultivation in the UK from a collection made at 2,100 m in the Nujiang (Salween) river valley of the Gaolingongshan in the far north-west of Yunnan in China. The Nujiang is the last major free-flowing river in China, all the others having been dammed. Botanically, the Nujiang Valley is one of the richest in China and was explored among others by Frank Kingdon-Ward, George Forrest and by the Austrian botanist Heinrich Handel-Mazzetti.

In one of those interesting botanical coincidences the plant was named twice within a period of about 5 months in 1936.  Cecil Fischer based his description of Hedychium wardii and derived its name from a specimen collected by Frank Kingdon Ward in Arunachal Pradesh, India.  Heinrich Handel-Mazzetti based his description of Hedychium efilamentosum on his own specimen collected in northwest Yunnan, China and derived its name from the distinctive character of the anther which lacks a filament.  Cecil Fischer's name, Hedychium wardii, has priority by just 5 months.

Hedychium efilamentosum was described as having just one flower per bract but Hedychium wardii was described as having three to five flowers per bract. The material I have grown, collected in China from the same region botanised by Handel-Mazzetti , also has three to five flowers per bract.  Usually only one flower emerges from a bract at a time; perhaps that explains the apparent discrepancy in flower number.

Hedychium wardii bears a substantial 15 cm tall cone-like inflorescence of green imbricate bracts from which emerge large, scented flowers of pure, bright yellow. The most characteristic feature of the flowers is the almost complete absence of a filament so that the anther is effectively sessile at the base of the labellum giving the flowers a very distinctive appearance.

Hedychium wardii is a very exciting addition to the range of Hedychium that succeed in British gardens. It is a robust, stocky plant flowering at about 1.2 metres. Initial experience with this plant in the south-west suggests that it is a good candidate for the garden flowering from late August and remaining evergreen in mild winters. It may perhaps prove marginal in less favoured gardens but is well worth trying outdoors once you have sufficient stock to split. If you are any doubt, treat Hedychium wardii as a container plant so that at least it can be brought under protection in autumn.


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last updated 02/10/2008