Which is the National Flower of Cuba?
The white ginger lily ('Hedychium coronarium') is a plant of beautiful, very fragrant white flowers. Its generic name, 'Hedychium', means fragrant snow. Like ginger, it belongs to the 'Zingiberaceae' family. It is native to tropical East Asia, in the mountainous regions of India and Nepal. It is the national flower of Cuba, where it has been naturalized in the humid sites of the mountains. It has also become spontaneous in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and Hawaii. In certain places, it can even be considered invasive.
In Cuba, where it is known as mariposa (literally "butterfly") due to its shape, it has been very common since the 19th Century in gardens and courtyards, and also as a naturalized species in wild places with moist soils, such as on the banks of streams or rivers. It is much appreciated since colonial times by women, who then adorned and perfumed with its flowers. They are widely used for bridal bouquets. So much is its popularity that, in 1936, it was declared the National Flower of Cuba by a commission of botanists and gardeners. This seems surprising because the white ginger lily is not native to Cuba. But, to choose it, they considered not only its great popularity but also that, during the independence wars in the 19th Century, its intricate branches served as a hiding place for patriotic women to carry important clandestine messages.