Hedychium gardnerianum Sheph. ex Ker Gawl. from its discovery to its invasive status: a review

Bot Stud. 2021 Jul 22;62(1):11. doi: 10.1186/s40529-021-00318-5.


Hedychium gardnerianum Sheph. ex Ker Gawl. is one of the 100 world's worst invasive alien species and the research target in areas as diverse as biological control, natural fibres uses, taxonomy or the biological activity of its compounds. This review aimed to clarify the taxonomic status and the native range of H. gardnerianum and bring accuracy to the history of its introduction and escape from cultivation through the analysis of the increasing number of accessible digitalized dry specimens and grey literature. The analysis of the available information allowed to conclude that: (a) Hedychium gardnerianum is a validly published name, the authority of the name is Sheph. ex Ker Gawl., the species holotype is the illustration published along with the species name, and the Natural History Museum BM000574691 specimen collected in 1815 is the first dried specimen of H. gardnerianum; (b) This species is native to the Central and Eastern Nepal, Bhutan, Northeast India and North Myanmar; (c) The species was cultivated at Cambridge Botanical Garden since 1818 and the first known herbarium specimen collected in Europe dates back to 1821; (d) Kathmandu (Nepal) and Khasi Hills (India) specimens are considered two varieties of the same species and the BM000574691 specimen is the lectotype of H. gardnerianum var. speciosum; (e) Specimens, references, and/or pictures support that H. gardnerianum escaped from cultivation at Galicia (Spain), Azores archipelago, Madeira, Tenerife, Cuba, Jamaica, Martinique, Trinidad, Ascension, Mexico, Honduras, Brazil, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Réunion, Mauritius, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, and Vietnam; and (f) H. gardnerianum is a serious pest in Azores, Madeira, Jamaica, Réunion, New Zealand and Hawaii and continues to expand its distribution area in South and Central America, Australia and Southern Africa. This review presents linear raw information compiled with precision, allowing the world databases updating their data but also gives the most detailed information possible to each country/region identifying new regions of concern and updating the invasiveness status in each region.

Keywords: Distribution; Hedychium gardnerianum; History of introduction; Invasion severity; Nomenclature; Types.

Publication types

  • Review