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Help ID- Cardamom Ginger The Real Deal or "False Cardamom"

Geneva, FL(Zone 9b)

I was wondering if someone could help me with a positive ID of this ginger. I purchased it from an herb and vegetable plant seller as Cardamom ginger---a very tiny 4 inch pot sized plant. It looks like the many images I have seen of cardamom on the internet. However, in size, it is nowhere near the 12 feet tall that the commerically raised cardamom reportedly attains. This plant stayed under a foot tall for its first three years. When I moved and transplanted it at my new house two years ago, it went crazy and is now over 5 feet tall. It has formed a huge clump, though it has never bloomed thus far.

The leaves have the most positively fantastic perfume when crushed--sort of like pumpkin pie spice--wonderfully strong and sweet. In fact, I love weeding and working around this plant because to brush against it releases the fragrance as well.

Cardamom is supposed to be very cold sensitive but this one seems to take down to 32 degrees without much problem. If it isn't covered it gets a little "burned" but bounces right back. I have read about so-called "false cardamom" and was wondering if this was one of these. They are also used in spice making but supposedly are not as intense in flavor or fragrance as the commercially grown species. I imagine this plant should bloom eventually as it is getting bigger and the clump is extremely thick and dense. It would be cool to get a few pods of cardamom.

Lastly, I cannot remember the grower I got it from as it was at a plant sale a few years ago and I wouldn't know where to begin as the sellers were from all over the place.

Sooooo, can anyone help me with an ID? I really like this plant, as does anyone that visits my garden. Once I hand them a leaf to smell and they see this lovely clump of green, they like it immediately. It is also extremely low maintainance and seems to thrive the more I just leave it alone.

BTW--that is a staghorn fern hanging on the above right-hand side---not some weird growth from the ginger. LOL


This message was edited Jan 18, 2009 4:08 PM

Geneva, FL(Zone 9b)

OOPS! The pic didn't attach--here it is:

Thumbnail by Ncasselberryfla
Sarasota, FL

Alpinia nutans is the plant which is sold as 'dwf. cardamom'. The real cardamom has flowers on seperate stalks than the leaves. Alpinias mostly flower on top or at the apex of the leaves, same as butterfly ginger Hedychium.
The seeds are fragrant but it's not the real cardamom.
Nutans means nodding which your plant is doing.

Geneva, FL(Zone 9b)

Wow--thanks! I really like this plant as a landscape specimen and that fragrance is too die for. I wonder if it has any culinary uses?

Anyway, thanks for your information!


Chickenville, FL(Zone 9a)

I am glad this was posted. I have been wondering about the physical difference of the two plants also. Thanks

Pinellas Park, FL(Zone 9b)

Well here s a small one I just transplanted that is supposed to be the real cardamon What do you think?

Thumbnail by budgielover
Pinellas Park, FL(Zone 9b)

Different angle

Thumbnail by budgielover
Gainesville, FL

Norma I have the nutans as well. It is extremely hardy, to the 20's. It NEVER blooms for me in all the (over 10 years) I have been growing it. In fact I have never spoken to anyone who is growing it who has ever actually seen a bloom.

north coast nsw, Australia

"The real cardamon"- is this the ginger root you buy in the supermarket?

Gainesville, FL

No. True Cardamom has 2 distinct species...the green seeded form in Elettaria, the black seeded form is Amomom. The "false" cardamom above is Alpinia nutans. The common ginger you get at the grocery store is Zingiber officianale.

There is a possibility that you can actually grow the true black and green cardamoms from the seeds you buy at the Indian grocery store if they haven;t been treated with something. This is something I am planning to try this season.

I got some galangal and turmeric rhizomes from the Indian market and have grown them into plants. The Galangal is an ALpinia, the Turmeric is a Zingiber.

north coast nsw, Australia

thanks for that gothqueen

(Zone 9a)

Thanks GQ, I have been searching online for info on this plant and haven't come up with much until now. I recently bought a young plant labeled "Cardamom Ginger - amomum sp." and would love to know more about it. Do you have a photo of the flowers? I can't seem to find much info online. My plant looks like Budgie's.

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

This link may be of help to you.

Keaau, HI

Elettaria cardamomum, Cardamom, must be grown from seed that is fresh off the plant. The seed found in stores is always too old to grow.

Fleming Island, FL(Zone 9a)

Believe I have False Cardamom Ginger
I've had this plant in my yard for years. It "came with the house". Was all along 1 side. I was originally told it was "Cast Iron Plant". Since it never did anything except grow, about 5 years ago we yanked it all out & tossed it in a pile out back. Threw a bunch of leaves on top & thought we were starting a compost pile.

Well, the plants came back but since it was out in back, and nothing else there, just let it grow. The geckos & snakes love it.

Walking to my compost pile the other day something caught my eye.

Posting pics below. Never saw a flower but I think there is another "stalk" forming and will keep a close eye.

Took quite awhile to get an ID on this one.

Thumbnail by Qwilter Thumbnail by Qwilter
Keaau, HI

Yes, Quilters' plant looks like Alpinia nutans, False Cardamom.

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