King's Fingerroot
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King's Fingerroot
P Native Photo: M. Sawmliana
Common name: King's Fingerroot • Mizo: Ai-thur
Botanical name: Boesenbergia kingii    Family: Zingiberaceae (Ginger family)

King's Fingerroot is a stemless herb with perennial root stock, with rhizome 0.5-1.0 cm wide. It is named for named for Clarence King, 19th century geologist on the California Geological Survey. Flowers are 13-16 cm long, hairless, one flower open at a time. Sepal-cup 1.8-2.2 x 0.5-0.6 cm, tubular, translucent white or pale green, split up to 8-9 mm from tip. Flower tube 12.5-12.7 cm long, light red towards upper portion and white below. Petals are 3, oblong, creamy-white, margin involute; dorsal petal 3.0-3.3 x 1.2-1.4 cm, tip pouched; lateral petals 3.0-3.2 x 1.0-1.1 cm, tip slightly pouched. Staminodial tube 2 cm long, white. Lip 3.7-4.2 x 3.0-3.1 cm, widely ovate, sac-like, cream-white with throat red (with small white spots), margin wavy. Lateral staminodes are 2, 1.9-2.0 x 1.4-1.7 cm, broadly obovate, creamy-white, margin wavy. Stamens are 1.2-1.6 cm long, white. Flowers are borne in clusters arising from the root or at branch-ends, 15-18 cm long, carried on flower-cluster-stalk 1.5-1.7 x 0.5 cm, white or slightly maroon-tinged. Bracts are 9-10 per spike, oblong or boat-shaped, each subtending a single flower, 7.0-7.7 x 1.6-1.8 cm, white with green tinge or green with maroon tinge, hairless, thick and fleshy, translucent, tip pointed. Bracteoles are 4.7-5.0 x 0.6 cm, lanceshaped, pale green, translucent, tip blunt. White tuberous roots extend from the rhizome. Leafy shoot are 50-65 cm tall, with 2-5 leaves. Leaves are 40-55 cm long, leaf-stalk 11-25 cm long, blade 30-40 x 12-16 cm, elliptic, hairless, dark green above, light green below, tip tapering, base obliquely eared. King's Fingerroot is found in moist shady places in evergreen forests, in NE India, Peninsular India, East Himalaya, China South-Central, Myanmar, Thailand. Flowering: May-August.

Identification credit: M. Sawmliana Photographed in Lengpui & Tamdil, Mizoram.

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