The History and Cultivation of Etlingera – The Torch Gingers – at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
The ginger family, Zingiberaceae, is a pan-tropical family comprising 51 genera and c. 1,200 species predominantly found in Asia and the Pacific regions. The collection at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) has been actively researched since the 1950s (Newman, 2000) and taxonomists from a variety of institutions around the world have discovered, described, verified, named and renamed many taxa within this diverse group of plants. One genus, Etlingera has been extensively worked on recently, with over 30 new species identified from Sulawesi alone and probably between 150 and 200 species altogether within the genus (Poulsen, 2012). A list of the 25 species of Etlingera cultivated at RBGE is provided. Most of these were collected from the wild as seed. Scientific and horticultural field trips to collect members of the ginger family have provided an extensive and ever-expanding unique living research resource and over the last ten years the collection has doubled in size. This paper describes the cultivation of Etlingera at RBGE and discusses some of the features and challenges associated with the genus at RBGE.
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