White Ginger, or Hedychium Coronarium, blooms in midsummer to late autumn and each “butterfly-like” flower only lasts one day![i] A cousin of culinary ginger, the flower and buds are edible and can be used in flavoring but their potent smell makes them more suitable for leis and garlands.[ii]
Almost every part of The White Ginger plant is useful. The essential oil from the flowers are used in high quality perfumes, soaps, and lotions; the rhizomes and roots are used in medicine, the seeds are used to help with stomach ailments; and the stems are useful in making paper. [iii]
Pikake, or Jasminum Sambac, produces sweet, fragrant flowers that are used for perfumes and making tea. The flowers open at night and close in the morning, a span of 12 to 20 hours.[iv] Typically, the flowers are harvested as buds during early morning. The buds have to be white, as green ones don’t emit the characteristic fragrance they are known for.[v] Open flowers are generally not harvested as a larger amount of them is needed to extract oils and they lose their fragrance sooner.
In Hawaii, the flower is known as ‘pikake,’ and is used in weddings and to make fragrant leis. The name ‘pikake’ is derived from the Hawaiian word for “peacock”, because the Hawaiian Princess Kaʻiulani was fond of both the flowers and the bird.[vi]
[i] Hawaiian Plants and Tropical Flowers “Hedychium Coronarium – White Ginger” http://wildlifeofhawaii.com/flowers/409/hedychium-coronarium-white-ginger/
[ii] Herbs – Treat & Taste “White Butterfly Ginger” http://herbs-treatandtaste.blogspot.com/2012/07/white-butterfly-ginger-not-culinary.html
[iii] Herbs – Treat & Taste “White Butterfly Ginger” http://herbs-treatandtaste.blogspot.com/2012/07/white-butterfly-ginger-not-culinary.html
[iv] – [vi]Wikipedia “Jasminum Sambac” http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jasminum_sambac&redirect=no