December 22, 2006

Flores de mi amor (Flowers from my love)

A side benefit of El Jefe taking the machete to the garden was this:

Etlingera elatior, common name Torch Ginger

And this:

Alpinia purpurata, common name red ginger

So I can't complain too much, can I?

Etlinger elatior grows to 20 feet (6.5 m.) tall and wide with a multitude of leaf stalks. Mine were each planted from one stem about 2 years ago. You can see a picture from May 2005 of the one tall stalk (between the windows to the right of the birdbath) along with 3 or 4 small new stems that had sprouted at that time.

This picture from two months ago shows the leaf stalks rising from the ground. The plants now have (or had before the machete) about 40-50 leaf stalks even though they have been thinned out several times.

Right now, my unmacheted pink one has 25 flower stalks (most of which need to be dead headed). They seem to have at least a few flowers blooming year round. The pink plant gets more sun and flowers more prolifically.

The flowers come in pink with green stalks or a deep coral with red stalks, growing on individual stalks that rise from the ground. The flowers look as if they were made of wax and are very long lasting in arrangements. The flower stalks are about 2 feet long (.6 m.). The picture at top is the coral variety.

This picture at right is of the pink variety. Here in Honduras, pink Etlinger is called Bastón de la Reina (cane of the queen) and coral Etlinger is called Bastón de la Emperador (cane of the emperor). They are of the Zingiberaceae (ginger) family.

Alpinia purpurata, common name red ginger, grows to about 10 feet (3 m.) and blooms year round. Flower colors range from light pink to dark red. They are among the most common plants here in La Ceiba and are easily propagated by dividing the multitude of stems that arise from the ground.

In this hot, humid climate the seeds sprout right inside the flowers, growing new plants while the flower is still blooming! These little plantlets can be planted directly in the ground.

We have a lot of thinning and dividing to do. I wish I could share some of these plants with you!

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