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Alpinia zerumbet: Potential Threat to Maui Ecosystems

If you have had ginger plants coming up like weeds in your yard, these plants may be a potentially serious new invasive species on Maui, the "shell ginger" Alpinia zerumbet. In March 2000, it was first reported escaping from cultivation into the wild on Kauai, and has now been found to be spreading on Maui. The plants known to be spreading were planted 1992 and after. It is not yet known whether the recent spread is due to the maturation of an invasive variety of shell ginger, or whether some new pollinator or variety has made the plants fertile.

Confirmed sitings:

One shell ginger plant produces at least 1000 seeds per square foot. The seeds are bird dispersed. The seedlings can mature in shade or full sun, in topsoil or lithified sand.

If you find plants that look like the photos below:

  1. Call the Maui Invasive Species Committee to report your finding: (808) 579-2116, e-mail:
  2. If fruit are developing, cut off the fruit stalks and either
    1. save them for identification if requested to do so, or
    2. throw them in the trash.
    Do not allow birds to get to them, for they will eat and disperse them.
  3. Dig up the plants, cut off the roots, and throw the roots in the trash.
  4. Look around your neighborhood for more shell ginger plants. If you find them, communicate this information to your neighbor, and notify the Maui Invasive Species Committee.

There are many other beautiful gingers that are not invasive and can be planted to replace your shell gingers.
Alpinia zerumbet emerging through a lawn of St. Augustine grass.
"Shell" Flower
Mature and immature fruit. Mature fruit is orange, looking like tiny 1/2 inch pumpkins.
Immature fruit and seed.
Seedlings of Alpinia zerumbet with seeds still attached.