Scientific Name: Tapeinochilos ananassae
Synonyms: Costus ananassae, C. pungens, Tapeinochilos australis, T. pungens, T. queenslandiae
Common Names: Indonesian Wax Ginger, Red Wax Ginger, Pineapple Ginger, Giant Spiral Ginger
Growth Habit: Herb/Forb
Hawaii Native Status: Cultivated. This ornamental garden plant is native to Malaysia, Indonesia, New Guinea, and Australia.
Flower Color: Orange-yellow. The much more conspicuous floral bracts are deep red.
Height: Up to 8 feet (2.4 m) tall
Description: The small, tubular, 3-lobed, yellow flowers emerge from between shiny, waxy, red, spirally-arranged, tongue-like, point-tipped floral bracts on 4 to 12 inch (10 to 30 cm) long, cone-shaped inflorescences. The inflorescences arise directly from the underground rhizomes or are borne on the stems. The leaves are green, hairless above, fuzzy or hairless below, narrowly elliptic to oblanceolate in shape, up to 15 inches (38 cm) long, and spirally arranged around the stems. The branched, cane-like stems emerge from underground rhizomes. The main stems are brown, semi-woody, mostly upright, and bamboo-like, while the green, leafy side stems are curved into a graceful spiral arc.
Here in Hawaii, Indonesian Wax Gingers are grown in moist, humid, shady gardens. The stiff, waxy inflorescences make long lasting cut flowers in tropical flower arrangements.
In their native range, Sunbirds (Family Nectariniidae) help pollinate these plants, but Sunbirds are not found here in Hawaii.
The similar Red Tower Ginger (Costus comosus) has much larger yellow flowers and the plants are more corn-like than bamboo-like.
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
Family: Costaceae – Costus family
Genus: Tapeinochilos Miq.
Species: Tapeinochilos ananassae (Hassk.) K. Schum.