Zingiber odoriferum (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Zingiber odoriferum Blume

Family: Zingiberaceae

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: balakatoa, tolol, tongtak (Sundanese).


Indonesia (Java), possibly also cultivated occasionally.


Salted fruits (ripe and unripe) eaten with rice. Very young stem parts are eaten as a vegetable.


  • Robust perennial herb, up to 3 m tall with strongly branched rhizome.
  • Leaves oblong-lanceolate to linear, 15-47 cm × 3-7 cm, strongly scented when bruised.
  • Fruiting spikes narrow cylindric, 9-20 cm long, on robust 1 m long penduncle.
  • Fruit berry-like, ovoid to globose, about 2 cm diameter, white.
  • Seeds oblong-globular, angular, 5 mm long.

In primary and secondary forests on moist soils, up to 1500 m altitude.

Selected sources

  • Backer, C.A. & Bakhuizen van den Brink, R.C., 1963 1968. Flora of Java. 3 Volumes. Noordhoff, Groningen, the Netherlands.
  • Heyne, K., 1927. De nuttige planten van Nederlandsch Indië [The useful plants of the Dutch East Indies]. 2nd ed. 3 Volumes. Departement van Landbouw, Nijverheid en Handel in Nederlandsch Indië. 1953 pp.
  • Schumann, K., 1904. Zingiberaceae. In: Engler, A. (Editor): Das Pflanzenreich. Heft 20. 458 pp.
  • Tyozaburo Tanaka & Sauke Nakao (Editors), 1976. Tanaka's Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing Co., Tokyo. 924 pp.


P.C.M. Jansen, J. Jukema, L.P.A. Oyen, T.G. van Lingen