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This ginger will leave a nasty taste in your mouth

A dense stand of wild ginger in flower
A dense stand of wild ginger in flower

Warning: do not try to eat wild ginger. Apparently it tastes horrible! Another reason to dislike this pest plant. Additionally, it does serious damage to our natural areas. It spreads across the ground, chokes out other plants, and prevents new ones growing by forming dense mats.

It can easily spread by seeds or fragments of roots, called rhizomes, and can invade our native forests, bush areas, and gardens. Read on to learn how to recognise, remove and dispose of wild ginger.

Wild ginger seedling
Wild ginger seedling

Because wild ginger, also known as Kahili ginger, grows so quickly, spreads easily, and

stops other plants from growing, it’s so important to identify this pest plant when it’s young, small and easier to control. Check out the photo of the wild ginger seedling and look out for these in your backyard and reserves, and just pull them up if they come out easily.

Although it is past the main flowering season now, it is an important time to control the plants. Any seed heads that have formed can easily spread seeds into reserves and parks, and can be collected and disposed of quite easily. If you see the seed heads or flowers, cut them off and place in your household waste collection.

For established plants, more time is needed, but read on to find out how to control it.

For established plants more time is needed, but read on to find out how to control it.
Wild ginger flower and seed head, and large glossy leaves

How you can help:

Recognise - Learn what it looks like

Report - ​Use our new EcoNet CAMS Weed App​ to repor​t locations

Remove - Find out how to control the plant and get supplies from our Community Toolshed

Restore - Plant natives in its place, to stop it coming back, and to support our native wildlife.


See page 4 of the Plant me instead booklet

Read on for more details...

What does it look like?

  • Non-woody stems up to 2m tall, smells of ginger.

  • Shiny, slightly hanging, large leaves.

  • Lemon-yellow flowers with red stamens Feb - Apr, arranged on flower heads 25-45cm tall.

  • Seed heads: spiky, with fleshy orange fruits, with scarlet seeds.

  • Roots, called rhizomes, grow close to the ground in branching mats.

Check out the Weedbusters Wild Ginger page for lots of photos

There is also a similar species, yellow ginger, which can be controlled in the same way (see Weedbusters yellow ginger page). It causes similar problems but yellow ginger only spreads through roots, not seeds.

Why is it weedy?

  • It pushes out and replaces native species - nothing can grow through the mat of roots!

  • Fast growing and spreads easily via roots and seeds - seeds can easily be dispersed by birds and even pest animals like rats.

  • A tiny piece of root (or rhizome) is all it takes for a new plant to grow - often spread by people dumping garden waste with lots of small root pieces!

  • Long lived - once established can be difficult to dig out. But there are other methods of control

A volunteer controlling wild ginger
A volunteer controlling wild ginger

What can I do to get rid of it?

  • Cut off and collect seed-heads before they go to seed.

  • Cut stems just above the base and leave the stems and leaves as mulch - they will rot down easily.

  • Pull or dig out all the roots, being careful to remove all the small fragments.

Or instead of digging out the roots, you can paint the cut stem with a thin swipe of Cut ‘n’ Paste Metgel™, which can be borrowed from us - visit our Community Tool Shed to pick some up. Always read the labels if using herbicide.

Ginger rotting down in a barrel of water - an easy, long term disposal method
Ginger rotting down in a barrel of water - an easy, long term disposal method

For disposing of the seed-heads and any roots use:

  • Household waste for landfill

  • Heavy duty weed composting bag (borrow one from the Toolshed)

  • One of our Community Pest Plant Bins

  • A covered container of water for several months

See all our pest plant disposal information on our website.

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