Common Name: Hardy ginger, Chinese butterfly ginger
Cautleya spicata is an herbaceous perennial in the family Zingeberaceae. It is native to the Himalayas through to China. Cautleya spicata produces stiff spikes of yellow flowers with maroon bracts from July through September. Its stems which can reach a height of 60 cm/24 in or more are actually pseudostems formed by the tightly wrapped sheaths of leaves. Cautleya spicata grows from rhizomes which have short fleshy roots.
The genus name honours Proby Cautley, an English engineer, who conceived and supervised the construction of the Ganges irrigation canal in India. The epithet 'spicata' means spiky.
Cautleya spicata can be found in the Sino-Himalayan Garden.
Text and photos by Kumi Sutcliffe