Yellow ginger, also called wild ginger or kopi, is a flowering plant native to India, which is now commonly found in warm environments throughout the world. Though it was cultivated in many areas as an ornamental garden plant, it has spread outside this controlled setting, becoming a highly invasive species that threatens to chock out local flora.
Yellow ginger is a tropical plant and prefers warm and moist environments, growing best in its native rainforests or similar climates. It can grow in full sunlight, but prefers partial to full shade created by a dense foliage canopy .
Yellow ginger is a perennial flower, which blooms during late fall and early winter. Flowers vary from cream to yellow in color, and are very fragrant. The plant has long and waxy, blade-shaped leaves of green. At maturity yellow ginger can reach a height of between 6 and 7 feet.
Yellow ginger can be spread by seed and by root system. Large seeds, which appear fleshy and red, are generally spread by birds. A single bloom can produce more than 100 seeds. Yellow gingers can form a rhizome bed over 3 feet deep. This complex root system sends up new plants each year and spreads to form large colonies.
Because the yellow ginger produces such a dense root bed and forms such large colonies, it is extremely damaging to native species. Its root system chokes out native species that must compete for nutrients and space, and makes it extremely difficult for native saplings to become established. It also reduces the amount of nitrogen in the soil, which may alter the surrounding soil’s ability to support established native undergrowth and trees. Where it grows along stream beds it can alter, and inhibit, the natural flow of water.
There are a number of control methods including physical, chemical and biological removal and control. To eliminate an infestation, the root system must be completely removed because the plant can re-establish from even a very small surviving section of root.
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