Black Galangal
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Black Galangal
P Native Photo: Thingnam Rajshree
Common name: Black Galangal, Wild Ginger, Bamboo-leaved Galangal • Assamese: Tora, Bogi-tora • Bodo: Tharai • Bengali: Jangli Ada, Tara • Kannada: Betta shunthi • Malayalam: Malainschikua, Malayinchikkuva, Malayincikkuva • Manipuri: ꯄꯨꯜꯂꯩ Pullei • Marathi: Giri-kulimjan • Mishing: Tareng • Mizo: Mai-sawng-nawk
Botanical name: Alpinia nigra    Family: Zingiberaceae (Ginger family)
Synonyms: Alpinia allughas, Amomum nigrum

Black Galangal is a herbaceous plant, grows well on riverside and can also grow on moist land. The underground stem is rhizome and aerial stem is pseudo-stem which consists of leaf sheath. Leafy stems are loosely clumped, 1.5-2 m high. Rhizome is horizontal, up to 2 cm thick, dull cream inside. Leaves are 30-50 x 10 cm, oblong-lanceshaped, tapering, sparsely hairy below. Panicle less branched, up to 15 cm long, slightly oblique to the stem, densely woolly; bracts spathaceous. Flowers are usually solitary in a bract; bracteoles tubular; calyx 1 cm long, hairy, split on one side; flowers yellowish, lobes 1.5 cm long, oblong, velvet-hairy outside; lip 2.5 cm, obscurely 3-lobed; ovary densely velvet-hairy. The fruit is a berry having many seeds, and the pericarp is thin and green when it is young, becoming black and brittle when it gets old. The shoot of the plant along with a part of rhizome is used by the indigenous tribal people of Tripura as vegetable. Black Galangal is found in Eastern Himalayas, Bhutan and NE India, at altitudes of 900-1100 m. It is also found in parts of SE Asia and Sri Lanka. Flowering: July-August.
Medicinal uses: The rhizome is used as an aphrodisiac, tonic, diuretic, expectorant, appetizer and analgesic. It is also used in the treatment of impotence and bronchitis. In most tribal communities the root pounded and mixed with rice whisky is applied to skin for fungal infections, such as ringworm and melasma. The boiled green root is a potent carminative to reduce flatulence or dyspepsia. A root extract is taken thrice daily for the treatment of gastric ulcers, and taken twice daily for the treatment of jaundice by the Chakmas. Its use as an antiinflammatory and analgesic agent has been supported by experiments in mice.

Identification credit: Nidhan Singh, M. Sabu Photographed in Manipur & Assam.

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