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Biosphere, Fauna and Flora in Cuba Naturaleza
Cuba Naturaleza Biodiversity

White Ginger (Hedychium coronarium), national flower of Cuba

White Ginger (Hedychium coronarium)
Scientific name: Hedychium coronarium
Common name (english): White Ginger
Common name (spanish): Flor de Mariposa

The White Ginger (Hedychium coronarium) is the national flower of Cuba, known as "Flor de Mariposa" literally "Butterfly Flower", due to its similarity with a flying white butterfly. The White Ginger (Hedychium coronarium) is originally from the Himalayas region of Nepal and India.

Hedychium coronarium is a herbaceous plant with two types of shafts. Some are underground thick rhizomatous. Leaving these, the other ones are air, fine, right, rigid. The air shafts have big leaves, of more than 25 cm, lanceolate, whose petioles wrap the shaft being alternated to each side. The air shaft can arrive from 60 to 180 cm of high and its development finishes with a floral spike covered with espatas or as amended leaves that protect the buds of flowers.

In the summer, during the rainy months, the flowers go leaving in succession of among the espatas, first as thin tubes. Then the flower deploys its great corolla, of three petals, one of them with its wider and split limbo. This corolla, the stamens and the long pistil give him the attractive appearance of a butterfly, of this comes him their Cuban name. It flourishes the whole summer until October.

This particular species is incredibly fragrant and women used to garnish 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 inside 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.

 
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© 2017 Nigel Hunt