Ginger lily (Hedychium gardnerianum)

Ginger lily is a perennial ornamental plant in the early stages of invasion in Australia. It could potentially invade many wetter habitats of eastern Australia.


How does this weed affect you?

Ginger lily is an environmental weed in New South Wales and Queensland. It is ranked among the top 100 of the world's worst invasive species according to the Global Invasive Species Database.

It forms large dense stands, with rhizomes that can be 1 m deep. These stands can smother native understorey species, prevent the establishment of shrubs and trees and strongly modify native animal habitat.

It is one of the most shade tolerant weeds in Australia and can dominate the understorey of disturbed and undisturbed rainforests, riparian areas and other moist habitats with fertile soils.

It has the potential to be a serious weed of moist, and usually fertile, areas on the coast and tablelands from approximately Melbourne in the south to the far north Queensland highlands..

Ginger lily is also very poisonous to livestock.

Where is it found?

Ginger lily is a native of India, Bhutan and Nepal.

It is widely cultivated as an ornamental in many parts of the world and  has become naturalised and a weed problem in Australia, southern Africa, Reunion Islands, New Zealand, the Caribbean and Hawaii.

Ginger lily was introduced into Australia as an ornamental plant and the first recorded collection was in 1968 at Ingleburn near Sydney.

It is now naturalised from the South Coast of New South Wales to north-east Queensland, and around Melbourne in Victoria. It has also been recorded in Tasmania.

How does it spread?

Ginger lily is mostly dispersed by seed, spread mainly by birds, but other animals as well.

Once established, plants can expand vegetatively by rhizomes. However, new plants can also develop from small pieces of rhizome, which may be spread by the dumping of garden waste.

Seeds are short-lived, with few viable after 1 year.

New stems develop in spring and early summer.

Flowering chiefly occurs from summer to autumn, but can occur year-round in the right conditions.

What does it look like?

Ginger lily is a perennial herb with upright short-lived stems 1-2.5 m tall.

Stems arise from thick, branched rhizomes. Rhizomes can form extensive mats up to 1 m thick.

Leaves are dark green, alternately arranged and up to 45 cm long by 15 cm wide, with a membranous ligule 1.5-3 cm long.

Flowerheads are large (15-45 cm long), many-flowered, spike-like clusters at the stem tips.

Flowers are perfumed, pale to bright yellow and have a single long red stamen.

Fruit are 3-valved, thin-walled capsules; the inside of the valves are orange.

Seeds are bright red, fleshy and to about 1.8 cm long.

What type of environment does it grow in?

Ginger lily prefers moist habitats and fertile soils between sea level and 1700 m in subtropical and warm temperate climates. It also occurs in the highlands of north Queensland where temperatures are cooler.

It grows most abundantly in open, light-filled habitats, but can grow into deep shade.

It has been recorded as invading: riparian areas; edges of and within rainforest, montane forest, native forests and planted forests; grasslands, agricultural areas; disturbed areas; urban areas; and wetlands.


Author: Harry Rose

Reviewers: Rod Ensbey, Elissa van Oosterhout


Australia’s Virtual Herbarium: Hedychium gardnerianum.

Csurhes S and Hannan-jones M (2008). Pest plant risk assessment. Kahili Ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum), White Ginger (Hedychium coronarium) and Yellow Ginger (Hedychium flavescens). Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries. 

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (2103) Kahili ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum). 

Weeds Australia: Kahili Ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum). 

Weeds of Australia (2011) Kahili ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum). 

More information

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The main methods of control are excluding plants from uninfested areas, physical removal of all plant parts, and herbicide application. Which method is appropriate depends on:

  • size and density of the infestation
  • accessibility
  • time and resources available
  • habitat infested.

Continued follow-up and re-treatment is essential for all control methods.

Physical control

Plants can be dug up pulled in small to medium sized infestations, but the entire plant, including pieces of rhizomes need to be removed to avoid regrowth. This can be difficult and costly due to the deep, extensive rhizome system

Herbicide control

Herbicide applications are recommended for medium to large infestations, but can also be used for small infestations. Foliar spray, cut stump and basal bark applications have been used to control ginger lily in Australia.

Apply herbicides when plants are actively growing. Best results are achieved during spring and summer months.

Herbicide options

Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website

See Using herbicides for more information.

PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L with Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Various products)
Rate: 200 mL of glyphosate plus 1.5 g of Metsulfuron methyl in 10 L of water
Comments: Spot spray application, add a surfactant.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 9 (previously group M), Inhibition of 5-enolpyruvyl shikimate-3 phosphate synthase (EPSP inhibition)
Resistance risk: Moderate

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Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All pest plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.

Reviewed 2018