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Alpinia conchigera Griff
by Tan Kok Kiat

Newsletter

Alpinia conchigera Griff

by Tan Kok Kiat

Alpinia conchigera, known locally as langkuas ranting, langkuas kechil or jerunang (Holttum, 1950), and commonly known as the Lesser Alpinia (Lim, 2016), belongs to the family Zingiberaceae.

Alpinia conchigera is a herb that can grow up to 120 cm tall (Burkill, 1966). This species is semi-wild and it can be found in damp open places such as the edges of rice fields and under the shade of rubber trees and oil palms. It is widespread from eastern Bengal to Indo-China and southward to Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra (Holttum, 1950; Ibrahim et al., 2009). The leaves of A. conchigera are shortly petiolated, lanceolate-oblong, glabrous, dark green and about 30 cm by 9 cm (Holttum, 1950; Lim, 2016). This species has the smallest flowers among Peninsular Malaysian species of Alpinia (Holttum, 1950; Larsen et al., 1999). The inflorescence is about 20 cm long above the base of the uppermost leaf. The flower pedicel is about 5 mm long. The lip of the species is obovate in shape, strongly concave, about 5 mm long. The colour of the lip is either yellowish or pinkish white with 4 or 5 red streaks on each side (Holttum, 1950). The fruit is small and capsule-like, glabrous, containing three to five seeds and strongly aromatic (Lim, 2016).

In the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia, the rhizome is used as a condiment or spice which is added to some foods to enhance their flavour (Burkill, 1966; Ibrahim, 2000). Along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia the rhizome is used as folk medicine to treat fungal infection (Ibrahim et al., 2000). Some people in Peninsular Malaysia consume the rhizomes as a post-partum medicine, while the young shoots are used for preparing vegetable dishes (Ibrahim et al., 2009). Although unlikely used today, the rhizome is reported to be given to elephants for “derangements in the stomach” (Burkill, 1966). The conservation status of this species has not yet been evaluated. Due to its commonness it is possibly not a threatened species (Burkill, 1966; Ibrahim et al, 2009).

References

  1. Burkill, I.H.. (1966). A Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula (I-Z). Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  2. Holttum, R.E. (1950). The Zingiberaceae of the Malay Peninsula. The Gardens’ Bulletin Singapore 13 (1): pp. 224-236
  3. Ibrahim, H., Aziz, A.N., Syamsir, D.R., Mohamad Ali, N.A., Mohtar, M., Mat Ali, R. & Awang, K. (2009). Essential oils of Alpinia conchigera Griff. and Their Antimicrobial Activities. Food Chemistry 113 (2): pp. 575-577
  4. Ibrahim, H., Ong, H.C. & Hassan, R. (2000). Ethnobotanical survey of the ginger family in selected Malay villages in Peninsular Malaysia. Malaysian Journal of Science 19: pp. 93-99
  5. Larsen, K., Ibrahim, H., Khaw, S.H. & Saw, L.G. (1999). Gingers of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Natural History Publication (Borneo), Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. pp. 135.
  6. Lim, T.K. (2016). Edible Medicinal and Non-Medicinal Plants: Modified Stems, Roots, Bulbs, Volume 12. Springer. pp. 122-312.
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