Malaysian Ginger
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Malaysian Ginger
P Introduced Photo: Ashutosh Sharma
Common name: Malaysian Ginger
Botanical name: Zingiber ottensii    Family: Zingiberaceae (Ginger family)

Malaysian Ginger is a rhizome forming herb 1-1.9 m tall, forming clumps with 3-10 leaf shoots per each clump. Leafy shoots are slightly arching, composed of 18-25 leaves, base swollen 1.5-2.3 cm diam.; bladeless sheaths 5-6, up to 60 cm long. Leaf sheaths are green to purplish-green tinge. Leaf-stalk is reduced to a light green pulvinus, (3-4 mm long). Leaf blade is elliptic, 36-43 x 6-7.5 cm, above green and hairless, below light green, base blunt, tip narrowed. Inflorescence arises directly from the rhizome, 27-45 cm long, with 2-3 flowers opening at a time. Flower-cluster-stalk is close to the leafy shoot, radical, erect, 25-29 x 1.2-1.3 cm, covered by 9-12 sheathing bracts, tubular, 4-4.5 x 2.5-4 cm, externally dull red, greenish-red towards the tip. Flower-spikes are ellipsoid to obloid-ellipsoid, 12-15 x 4.5-4.8 cm; bracts enclosing single flower, obovate, 3.6-3.8 x 3.0-3.2 cm, dull red to greenish-red tinge toward tip when flowering and turning bright red after flowering, velvet-hairy, internally white, hairless, tip flat. Bracteoles are narrowly ovate, 3.2-3.5 x 1.2-1.5 cm, translucent white with reddish tip. Flowers protrude from the bracts, 6.3-6.5 cm long; sepal-cup tubular, 20-22 x 7-8 mm, translucent white. Flower tube is 4.0-4.2 cm long, widening gradually towards tip, white with pale yellowish towards the apical part, hairless; dorsal petal narrowly ovate, 21-22 x 7-8 mm, pale yellowish, tip pointed; lateral petals narrowly ovate, 20-21 x 5-6 mm, pale yellowish, lip obovate-round, 2.4-2.6 x 1.8-2.0 cm, pale yellow, margins undulating, tip rounded with a short cleft; lateral staminodes obovate, 17-18 x 8-9 mm, connective to the lip by basal 1/2, pale yellow with faint red-brownish markings, tip rounded. Stamens are 24-25 mm long; filament stalkless. Style is up to 6.5 cm long (straightened), white, hairless. Capsule is oblong, 1.5 cm long, red. Malaysian Ginger is native to S. Myanmar to W. Malesia.
Medicinal uses: In Malay traditional medicine, midwives commonly make the poultice from leaves and rhizomes of Malaysian Ginger before applying it to the body of the confinement’s women for postpartum care. Leaves are also used as the poultice for lumbago. In Thai traditional medicine, Malaysian Ginger rhizomes are used to treat gastrointestinal diseases (peptic ulcers and stomachache), constipation, myalgia, sprain, bruising/contusion, and wounds. Moreover, essential oil from Malaysian Ginger rhizomes has been used as a topical agent for Thai traditional massage.

Identification credit: Ashutosh Sharma, M. Sabu Photographed in cultivation at TDU (FRLHT) Campus, Bengaluru.

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