One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Any of the perennial herbaceous plants of the genus Hedychium (family Zingiberaceae), which are native to South, South-east, and East Asia and have reed-like stems and leaves and a spike of fragrant red, white, pink or yellow flowers; also called garland flower, garland lily.
2Any of the perennial herbaceous plants of the genus Alpinia (family Zingiberaceae), which are native mainly to warm parts of South and South-East Asia and have reed-like stems and leaves, a spike or panicle of white, yellow, pink, or red flowers, and a fragrant rhizome; also called shell flower, shell lily.
Late 19th century; earliest use found in Gardeners' Chronicle.
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