Butterfly Ginger or White Ginger (Dolon Champa)

Botanical Name :Hedychium coronarium
Family: Zingiberaceae
Genus: Hedychium
Species: H. coronarium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Zingiberales
Common Names:White ginger lily,Dolan champa(in Bangal)takhellei angouba in Manipur, sontaka in Maharastra, and suruli sugandhi in Karnataka.
Bengali Name : Dolon Champa
Habitat:It is originally from the Himalayas region of Nepal and India.Grows in Brazil where it is very common and considered to be an invasive weed. It was introduced in the era of slavery, brought to the country by African slaves who used its leaves as mattresses. It is also considered an invasive species in Hawaii.
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In Cuba it is the National Flower, known as “Mariposa blanca” literally “White Butterfly Flower”, due to its similarity with a flying white butterfly. This particular species is incredibly fragrant and women used to adorn themselves with these flowers in Spanish colonial times; because of the intricate structure of the inflorescence, women hid and carried secret messages important to the independence cause under it. It is said that a guajiro’s (farmer’s) house is not complete without a white ginger in its garden. Today the plant has gone wild in the cool rainy mountains in Sierra del Rosario, Pinar del Rio Province in the west, Escambray Mountains in the center of the island, and in Sierra Maestra in the very west of it, but the plant is not endemic of Cuba.

Description:
Hedychium coronarium is a perennial herb growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).It is a robust, attractive plant that will reach 6 feet in containers. It is a vigorous grower and needs to be divided often.Blooming time is  Summer-Fall. The white flowers are extremely fragrant and are good for cutting.
It is hardy to zone 9 and is frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It cannot grow in the shade.It requires moist or wet soil.

Cultivation:
Requires a rich moist soil and a sunny position. It succeeds in shallow water and can also be grown in a sunny border as a summer sub-tropical bedding plant. Plants are not very hardy, they tolerate temperatures down to about -2°c and can be grown at the foot of a south-facing wall in the milder areas of Britain if given a good mulch in the winter. The flowers have a delicious perfume which is most pronounced towards evening. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits. The tubers should be only just covered by soil.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a warm greenhouse at 18°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on for at least their first winter in the greenhouse. Plant out in late spring after the last expected frosts. Division as growth commences in the spring. Dig up the clump and divide it with a sharp spade or knife, making sure that each division has a growing shoot. Larger clumps can be planted out direct into their permanent positions, but it is best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a greenhouse until they are established. Plant them out in the summer or late in the following spring.

Edible Uses :-
Edible Parts: Flowers.

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Young buds and flowers are eaten or used as a flavouring.   Root – cooked. A famine food used when all else fails.

Medicinal Uses
Antirheumatic;  Aromatic;  Carminative;  Febrifuge;  Stomachic;  Tonic.

The seed is aromatic, carminative and stomachic. The root is antirheumatic, excitant and tonic. The ground rhizome is used as a febrifuge. An essential oil from the roots is carminative and has anthelmintic indications. The plant has been used as a remedy for foetid nostril.

Other Uses
Essential;  Paper.

The stems contain 43 – 48% cellulose and are useful in making paper. An essential oil obtained from the flowers is valued in high grade perfumes. The root contains 1.7% essential oil, which is used medicinally.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedychium_coronarium
http://www.plantoftheweek.org/week086.shtml
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Hedychium%20coronarium

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