Common Name: Torch Ginger

A genus of about 60 species of rhizomatous perennials, these plants have cane-like stems and generally rather wide, long leaves. They bear their upright, torch-like flower spikes on top of leafless canes. The showy part of the flower is really a bract; the true flower is small and hidden inside the bract. The flowers of some species are used in curries and are popular ornamentals.


E. elatior, torch ginger or Philippine waxflower, can grow 5-6 m (16-20 ft) high in its habitat. Upright canes carry leaves often over 70 cm (28 in) long. These are dark green above and purplish beneath. The inflorescences grow to 30 cm (12 in) long, with deep pink bracts. The small red flowers with yellow or white margins are carried lower down amongst the smaller bracts. This plant has become natu­ralized in some tropical countries.


Except in tropical climates, grow in a warm greenhouse or conservatory, in large pots or tubs of well-drained, soil-based potting compost. Shade from direct, strong sun. Provide a humid atmosphere. Water well in summer but keep plants fairly dry in winter. Propagate from seed or by division of the rhi­zomes.


Torch ginger is suitable for the tropics only.