Galangal: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information about galangal

Alpinia galangal is a member of the Zingiberaceae, or ginger, family. This plant grows from rhizomes in clumps of stiff stalks up to two meters in height with abundant long leaves which bears red fruit. The robust rhizome has a sharp, sweet taste and smells like a blend of black pepper and pine needles. It is a perennial herb, between one and two meters in height, depending on variety. The leaves are 25-35 cm long, rather narrow blades. The flowers are borne at the top of the plant and are small, white and streaked with deep-red veining. The rhizome resembles ginger in shape but it is much smaller. Some varieties have a dark reddish-brown skin and the interior is nearly white. The rhizomes are tough and difficult to break.

common names & nomenclature
The name Galangal is derived from the Arabic Khalanjan, perhaps a distortion of a Chinese word meaning "mild ginger".

Also known as:
greater galangal, thai galangal, blue ginger, thai ginger, laos, lengkuas, galanga root, languas galangal, kanghu, pa de kaw, galingale, kha

Galangal, the peppery, pine-like root
Galangal: Where in the World
habitat and range for galangal

Alpinia galangal is native to South Asia and Indonesia. It is cultivated in Malaysia, Laos, and Thailand.

Galangal: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting galangal

This plant prefers a protected, shady locations and is drought and frost tender. Frost will damage the leaves but will rarely kill the clump. Grows on ridges.

Galangal grows best in a rich, moist soil.

Galangal can be planted about 30 cm apart and with 15-23 cm between plants. The crop is planted by small rhizomes with one or two buds. Plant in spring, after all danger of frost is past and the soil has warmed up at a depth of 5-10 cm.

Rhizomes can be harvested most of the year. The rhizomes are more tender when they are young and actively growing with a white rather than brown skin. It is possible for the home gardener to just dig carefully at the side of a clump and remove rhizomes as needed rather than harvesting the whole clump.

Dried galangal root may be cut or powdered and should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.