I have no idea what the scientific name of this plant is, but locally it's called "the resurrection plant". Why? Well, we were told, because the flower emerges before the leaves. No doubt there is some religious symbolism here that I've missed, but I have to confess that the answer left me just as mystified as before the question!
The leaves die back in December, at the start of the dry season, and the flowers begin to appear at the start of the rainy season. The leaves follow the flower shortly after blooming. The plant is found everywhere--along roadsides, in abandoned or neglected gardens, everywhere. It naturalizes easily and becomes a huge clump.
Since I originally published this article, Mary has gone slightly crazy taking pictures of the emerging resurrection plants on our property--over 100 of them! tells you who has the more time around here. She's published what she considers the best of them here in a beautiful set. You'll even get scientific names--hows that for an incentive to go over there?
One thing I do know is that it's part of the ginger family. Like below. Which is an example of one of the 80 (I believe) species of ginger, many of which look wildly different from the others. There's still another flowering species (which used to be considered a ginger but now have a family of their own) called costas, which have gently spiraling stems. We have 3 in back of the house, but the plants are too young to flower yet. Maybe next year. None of these gingers are the eating variety, which is only one species.
I really like this brand of flowering ginger. While this one is a red ginger, there's a pink one as well that's far more delicate-looking.
Once established (and the gingers seem to need a year or two after planting to think things over), they're very drought resistant and flower all year round. They make a wonderful border plant for our driveway. They're also very easy to propagate, which is nice for me, since I need a couple dozen more to complete the border to the house.