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Shell Ginger is an evergreen tropical clumping ginger growing 1.5-2.5m which is native to East Asia. It is a beautiful and ornamental plant which also has a number of uses in the food forest and home. Its ability to thrive in full sun or quite heavy shade makes it particularly useful in a food forest; it can be planted early on in a system to shelter other slower growing plants, or it can be added as an understorey plant in an already existing system.
Shell Ginger is easy to grow and can handle most soil types and full sun or shade, but it does best in partial shade with some soil moisture. It can also be grown indoors or in a pot on a balcony. Plants can recover from light frosts but prefer warmer conditions. Planting in the understorey of a food forest can provide more shelter in colder parts of the country.
The leaves are used in both Chinese and Japanese cuisine as a food wrapping and for flavouring rice and noodle dishes. The dried fruits are also used. It is also consumed as a herbal tea and is a part of the traditional diet of Okinawan natives who are known for there exceptionally long life expectancy.