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Order: Zingiberales

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Monocotyledons > Commelinoids

Eight families of which seven are encountered in southern Africa. There are 92 genera and 2151 species recorded worldwide, of which six genera and 16 species are native to southern Africa. An additional two genera and four species are naturalised, and an additional 13 genera and 32 species are recorded as being cultivated in southern Africa.

Families encountered in southern Africa

Musaceae (banana family)

Two genera (Ensete and Musa) and 35 species, with one species, Ensete ventricosum, native to southern Africa and three species of Musa cultivated in the region, including Musa acuminata (Banana, Plantain).


One genus (Heliconia) containing anything from 100 to 200 species (mainly tropical America, a few in Southeast Asia and the Pacific). About five species of Heliconia have been recorded as being cultivated in southern Africa.

Strelitziaceae (Crane flower family)

Three genera and seven species (tropical South America, southern Africa and Madagascar), with one genus (Strelitzia) and five species native to southern Africa . In addition, Ravenala madagascariensis (Traveller's palm), which is native to Madagascar, is cultivated in southern Africa.


One genus (Canna) and 19 species (New World tropics), with one species and one hybrid naturalised in southern Africa, and an additional three species cultivated. Canna indica (Indian shot) is a declared Category 1 invader plant in South Africa.


There are 31 genera and 550 species (tropics and subtropics, mainly American), none of which are native to southern Africa. Five genera and nine species have been recorded as being cultivated in southern Africa.



Seven genera and 105 species (pantropical), with the distribution of one genus, Costus, extending into southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique), where three species have been recorded. An additional species is cultivated in the region.

Zingiberaceae (ginger family)

About 52 genera and 1200 species worldwide, with two genera and six species native to southern Africa and two genera and four species that are naturalised. An additional five genera and 12 species are cultivated in the region.

Families not encountered in southern Africa



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