Thursday, 2 January 2014

Torch Ginger (Bunga Kantan)

Taken in Spice Garden, Singapore

Taken in Singapore Botanic Garden (April 2014)

Torch Ginger (Etlingera elatior), Hawaiian = ‘awapuhi ko‘oko‘o – A herbaceous perennial, individual plants grow in large clumps whose stalks can be as much as 6 m high with leaves as long as 85 cm. Although it is cultivated throughout the tropics and has escaped to become naturalized in some localities, its original native range is thought to be a few isolated islands in Indonesia.  Typically it prefers a moist climate with somewhat acidic soil (pH = 5.6 to 7.5). It prefers full sun but does well in the partial shade of the rain forest. It is found at altitudes up to 9,000 feet. The various plant tissues and parts of this species of ginger are rich in volatile aromatic compounds. The majority of the essential oils extracted from the leaves, stems, flowers, and rhizomes of Torch Ginger are monoterpene hydrocarbons. Terpenes are the primary constituents of the essential oils of many types of plants and flowers. Essential oils are used widely as natural flavor additives for food, as fragrances in perfume, and in traditional and alternative medicines. Synthetic variations and derivatives of natural terpenes and terpenoids also greatly expand the variety of aromas used in perfumery and flavors used in food additives. Vitamin A is an example of a terpene. Currently, this and other species of ginger are the subjects of extensive research into the various antioxidant compounds present in their leaves and rhizomes.

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