Alpinia zerumbet (PROSEA)

From PlantUse English
Jump to: navigation, search
Logo PROSEA.png
Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Alpinia zerumbet (Pers.) B.L. Burtt & R.M. Smith

Protologue: Notes Roy. Bot. Gard. Edinburgh 31(2): 204 (1972).


  • Zerumbet speciosum J.C. Wendl. (1798),
  • Alpinia speciosa (J.C. Wendl.) K. Schum. (1903),
  • Languas speciosa (J.C. Wendl.) Small (1913),
  • Catimbium speciosum (J.C. Wendl.) Holttum (1950).

Vernacular names

  • Shell ginger, shell flower, light galangal (En)
  • Atoumau (Martinique) (Fr)
  • Indonesia: galoba merah, goloba koi, langkuas laki-laki (Moluccas)
  • Philippines: langkuas na pula (Tagalog)
  • Thailand: khaa khom (northern)
  • Vietnam: riềngấm, gừng ấm.


Considered native to north-eastern India, Burma (Myanmar), Indo-China, China and Japan. Cultivated throughout South-East Asia and in many other tropical and subtropical countries.


In the Philippines a decoction of the leaves is used as a bath against fevers. The rhizome stimulates digestion, and is also employed in the treatment of dyspepsia, flatulence, vomiting, gastralgia, colic, diarrhoea and malaria. In China the plant is used to treat stomach disorders, vomiting and dyspepsia. Its rhizome is traditionally applied as a stomachic, carminative, astringent, tonic and sedative. The seed is used to clear cold, invigorate the spleen and warm the stomach.

In Ambon the leaves are used as perfumed wrappers for cooked rice. The pith of the young stem was commonly eaten in parts of Malaysia. In eastern Asia the leaf sheaths are sometimes used as fibre for rope, while paper is made from the whole plant. In the Philippines it is occasionally planted for ornamental purposes.


A. zerumbet is similar to A. malaccensis . The main differences are: leafy stem up to 2-3 m tall; petiole up to 2.5 cm long; inflorescence decurved or drooping, up to 20 cm long, bearing 25 or more cincinni of 2 flowers each, but the flowers are larger; bracteoles white with pink apex; labellum entire or shallowly lobed; fruit orange. A. zerumbet occurs naturally in open, shaded forest.

Selected sources

  • Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol. 1 (A-H) pp. 1-1240, Vol. 2 (I-Z) pp. 1241-2444.

215, 242, 326, 407, 583, 694, 747, 805, 810, 998.


Halijah Ibrahim