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Alpinia Officinarum (Galangal)

Updated on April 12, 2011


Lesser galanga (Alpinia officinarum) is a plant belonging to the family of Zingiberaceae. is a plant native to China, in particular the coast of south-east (Hainan Island), however, grows well in India and throughout Southeast Asia. Many plants of the same family are mistakenly called lesser galangal, such as Kaempfer galanga or Boesenbergia Pandur often the same common names are interchangeable. Known in Europe since the Middle Ages, is mentioned in the writings of Arab Avicenna and Rhazes and described for the first time since HF Hance in a scientific journal (Journal of the Linnean Society, 1871). The name is thought to derive from 'Arab Khanlanjan, which in turn seems to be to turn the distortion of a Chinese word meaning "sweet ginger.


Tropical herbaceous plant, much smaller than the larger varieties can reach one meter rarely 'height.


The leaves are lance-shaped, with parallel veins, smooth, long and thin, very sharp at the top.


The flowers are born in dense spikes, consisting of a small tubular glass top, a white three-lobed corolla, a large egg-shaped labellum marked by red stripes, a single stamen with anther and a pistil with inferior ovary and a fine stylus. Nell 'with vaguely resembles the iris.


Rhizome from orange-brown with a red interior-brown, fibrous, greater variety of smaller (2 cm) but still streaked. It smells of ginger, pungent flavor with hints of pepper and ginger.



It is used mostly for its therapeutic properties, even if a time is found in the recipes associated with nutmeg el 'garlic. Even today it is used in cooking, often combined with rice dishes. It has properties similar to ginger: stimulant, carminative and stomachic. It is used against nausea, flatulence, dyspepsia, rheumatism, catarrh and enteritis in veterinary homeopathy and also for its antibacterial and tonic. In India is a traditional remedy for deodorant body and the 'bad breath. Used in Europe and Asia for centuries as a powerful aphrodisiac.


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    • Romano Arnesto profile image

      Romano Arnesto 

      7 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks for the info. This kind of ginger can be candied, too, just like the red and yellow ginger, usually used to make ginger ale.


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