Kaempferia galanga (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Kaempferia galanga L.

Protologue: Sp. pl. 1: 2 (1753).

Vernacular names

  • East-Indian galangal (En)
  • Indonesia: kencur, cekur (general), bataka (North Sulawesi, Ternate, Tidore)
  • Malaysia: cekur, cekur Jawa, cengkur (Peninsular)
  • Philippines: gisol (general), disok (Iloko), dusol (Tagalog)
  • Laos: 'van2'hom
  • Thailand: hom proh (central), waan hom, waan teen din (northern)
  • Vietnam: dia liền, sơn nai, tam nại.


Possibly native only to India, where it is widespread, cultivated throughout South-East Asia, including southern China, in Malesia east to the Moluccas, possibly also introduced in northern Australia.


In Malaysia, rhizomes are used in traditional medicine for the treatment of high blood pressure, swellings, ulcers, sprains and asthma. Leaves and rhizomes are chewed to treat coughs and sore throat; they are also pounded and used in poultices and lotions applied to relieve many ailments. Rhizomes are an ingredient of post partum medicine and to treat common cold. Leaves and rhizomes are eaten fresh as a vegetable and used in cosmetic powder and as a food flavouring agent. In Indonesia, K. galanga is used in a similar way, to treat swellings, muscular rheumatism, wounds and as an antidote. It is a common ingredient of "jamus". In the Philippines, the whole plant is used as a remedy for common cold. Rhizomes are used to treat headache, dyspepsia and malarial chills. Rhizomes and leaves are used as a flavouring in food, rhizomes also in perfumery. The leaves are used as vegetable.


A small herb; leaves usually 2-3(-5), sheaths 1.5-5 cm long, blade often horizontal and appressed to the soil, broadly elliptical to suborbicular, 6-15 cm × (2-)5-10 cm, acuminate, glabrous above, arachnoid-hairy below; inflorescence emerging from between the leaves, sessile, 4-12(-15)-flowered; calyx 2-3 cm long, corolla white, tube 2.5-5 cm long, lobes 1.5-3 cm long, labellum broadly obovate, divided to about halfway or more, white or pale purple with violet to purple spots at base, each lateral lobe about 2-2.5 cm × 1.5-2 cm, other staminodes oblong-obovate to oblanceolate, 1.5-3 cm long, white, fertile stamen 10-13 mm long, connective deeply bilobed with reflexed lobes. K. galanga thrives best in slightly shaded places such as open forest, forest edges, and bamboo forest, on various soils, up to 1000 m altitude.

Selected sources

97, 190, 202, 261, 287, 350, 363, 455, 580, 615, 875, 1035, 1066, 1126, 1128, 1178, 1287, 1372, 1406, 1496.


Halijah Ibrahim