Kaempferia rotunda (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Kaempferia rotunda L.

Protologue: Sp. pl. 1: 3 (1753).


Kaempferia longa Jacq. (1798).

Vernacular names

  • Round-rooted galangal (En)
  • Indonesia: kunci pepet, kunir putih (Javanese), temu rapet (eastern Sumatra)
  • Malaysia: kencur, kunyit putih, temu putih (Peninsular)
  • Philippines: gisol na bilog (general)
  • Thailand: waan nonlap (Chiang Mai), waan haao non (Ratchaburi), ueang din (northern)
  • Vietnam: cẩm dia la, ngải máu.


Possibly native to Indo-China, but nowadays cultivated almost throughout tropical Asia, mainly as an ornamental but especially in South-East Asia also for medicinal purposes; regularly escaping from cultivation.


In Indonesia, rhizomes are used to treat abdominal illness; the watery little corms are considered cooling. In the Philippines, rhizomes are used internally to treat gastric complaints, and externally, mixed with oil, as a cicatrizant. They are also used in perfumery and as a means to preserve cloth from insects. Leaves and rhizomes are eaten fresh or cooked as a vegetable and used in cosmetic powder and as a food flavouring agent.


  • A small herb.
  • Leaves (2-)3-5, erect, petiolate, sheaths 7-24 cm long, blade oblong-lanceolate to elliptical, (7-)12-25(-36) cm × 4-7(-11) cm, gradually acuminate, glabrous above, puberulous below, often flamed or marked.
  • Inflorescence appearing before the leaves on stems with rudimentary leaves, on a well-developed peduncle, 4-16-flowered.
  • Calyx 3-7 cm long, white or greenish, corolla white, interruptedly striped-punctate, tube 3.5-7 cm long, lobes 3.5-7 cm long, labellum obcordate, divided halfway or further, 4-7 cm × 2-4 cm, purple with yellowish midrib, other staminodes elliptical to linear, 3-5 cm long, white or lilac, fertile stamen 0.8-2.5 cm long, connective 2-4-lobed.

K. rotunda grows well in teak forest, open lower montane forest, old bamboo forest, but also in open grassland, up to 1300 m altitude.

Selected sources

97, 202, 455, 580, 615, 875, 1066, 1126, 1128, 1178, 1372, 1496.


Halijah Ibrahim