- Etlingera elatior (Jack) R.M. Smith
- Etlingera elatior
Etlingera are commonly known as “Torch
Ginger” in the landscape trade and
“ Ginger Flower” in the floral world. These species are known for their long flower stems and
thick, waxy, brightly colored bracts. From powder white to deep reds and maroons these mace shaped blooms invoke a festive yet soothing visual
Etlingera elatior (Torch Ginger or Ginger
Flower) is a species of herbaceous perennial plant. Botanical synonyms include Nicolaia elatior and Phaeomeria
speciosa. Etlingera eliator
belongs to genus Etlingera, family Zingiberaceae
The Zingiberaceae is the largest family of the order Zingiberales, with with approximately 50 genera and over 1,000
species. Gingers are found throughout the tropics, but are especially abundant in Southeast
Asia. They are commonly used as ornamentals, as spices, and for their medicinal
The genus Etlingera (Zingiberaceae) is distributed from India to the Pacific Islands with centers of species richness assumed in Borneo and New
Guinea. Presently at least 70 species are known from the Malesian region, but after the last 5 years work in
Borneo, 29 are known alone for this area, including 10 still undescribed.
The torch ginger (Etlingera elatior) is well known as a useful and
ornamental plant but several other species are known to be used by local people.
The spectacular inflorescence rises from the rhizome to a height of 60
centimeters (24 inches) to more than a meter (40 inches). The individual flowers
will appear from between the pinecone-like scales above the waxy bracts. The
leaves grow in ranks from separate stalks along the rhizome. The leafy stalks
are evergreen and get 4.5 to 6 meters (15 to 20 feet) tall.
The showy pink flowers
of a tall perennial look almost too pretty to eat but their flavour is
an essential ingredient in some dishes. Difficult to procure outside
Asia at present, they will probably soon be grown and sold the way other
Asian herbs are in large Western cities.
A large number of species from the ginger family have been cultivated for their use as
food, medicine and ornamentals. However the usefulness of the native species has not been fully appreciated and
Gingers are also used in industry. Species with very fibrous leaves can be processed for the production of fibres and
paper. Etlingera elatior was known to be successfully processed for papermaking albeit not high
Gingers are used as
food (flavouring, vegetables, beverages).
Among the common species are Zingiber officinale Rose otherwise known as ginger
(rhizome), Curcuma domestica Val. or turmeris (rhizome, leaf), Etlingera elatior
(Jack) R.M. Smith (inflorescence, rhizome, aerial stem), Ginger, for
instance, is known to flavour all kinds of oriental dishes. It is also processed into beverages
(e.g., ginger beer, ginger drink), and provides flavouring for cakes, pastries and
Some of the popular
laksa soups feature a sprinkling of finely shredded ginger bud (Etlingera
elatior), while others use laksa leaf. The Malaysian name for ginger
flower is bunga kantan or bunga siantan. In Thailand, young shoots and
flowers are served raw with nam prik (Thailand national dish).