Name given in honor of Prospero Alpino, an Italian doctor and botanist of the sixteenth century, who was a professor of botany in Padua and director of the Botanical Garden of that city. The genus includes herbaceous plants, tropical, evergreen, greenhouse, from Asia and the islands of the South Seas. They are rhizomatous with lanceolate leaves, sessile or crushed petiolate, sheathing single stems, not ramifying and that, acceding, they form in large numbers; in some species, they can reach a remarkable height. The flowers are showy, bracteate, with a trilobed corolla and are born in terminal panicles. The plants are aromatic like almost all the members of the Zingiberaceae family.
Cultivated species of Alpinia:
A. allughas, more than a meter tall, has red flowers; A. mutica, with white and yellow flowers, veined in carmine; A. nutans (sin A. speciosa), a beautiful plant that can reach three meters, with long and lanceolate leaves, long terminal pendulous racemes of flowers similar to small orchids, irregularly colored in white, violet and yellow, perfumed; A. Rafflesiana, with rather small flowers, with a yellow-gold corolla with red margins; A. sanderae does not reach the meter of height and is cultivated for its ornamental foliage, since the long lanceolate leaves from the very short petiole, alternated, are striated longitudinally by wide irregular white stripes. It is perhaps a variegated variety of the raffiesiana.
the A. require rather large vessels because their rhizomes can expand freely, producing new groups of stems; the temperature must be high, the soil rich and organic, the watering abundant during the period of maximum vegetation. With high environmental humidity, very strong luminosity and regular fertilization, they should flourish quite easily, however less freely, than other genera of the same family. After flowering these plants will need a period of semi-iridescence, in which the watering will have to be thinned out without however allowing the soil to dry completely. The multiplication occurs by division in spring when the vegetative growth is evident.
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