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A picture of a Greater Galangal

Greater Galangal

Alpinia galanga

Also known as

Siamese-Ginger, Languas, Thai galangal, Laos, Lengkuas, Galanga root, Kanghu, Pa de kaw, Chewing John, Little John to chew, Court case root

Alpinia galanga-Sunny brook-3-yercaud-salem-India by Yercaud-elango (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Partial Shade
Easy care
Moderate watering


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size









  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a mild fragrance

More images of Greater Galangal

Alpinia galanga
A photo of Greater Galangal

Greater Galangal Overview

Greater galangal is native to Java and is widely used in Indonesia, Malaysia and parts of India as a food flavouring and spice. The plant grows from rhizomes in clumps of stiff stalks, with no central stem, up to 2 m in height with plentiful long leaves which bear red fruit. The rhizome has an orangey-brown skin with a pale yellow/white interior and a sharp, sweet taste and smells like a blend of black pepper and pine needles. The red fruit is used in traditional Chinese medicine and has a flavor similar to cardamom. The plant produces greenish-white flowers, dark red at their tips, that later produce the red berries. The rhizome must have at least two nodes/eyes before it can be planted.

Common problems with Greater Galangal

Pests include stem borer and leaf eating caterpillars with leaf blight being a common disease.

    How to harvest Greater Galangal

    Rhizomes can be harvested almost throughout the year. The rhizomes are more tender when they are young and actively growing with a white rather than brown skin.

    How to propagate Greater Galangal


    Plant to the depth of the rhizome and cover with a thin layer of soil, spacing the seeds 60-90 cm apart.


    Greater Galangal plants grow tuberous, branching rhizomes. Plant in a shady location in sandy loam. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Harvest the Galangal rhizomes in early winter.


    Divide in the spring.

    Special features of Greater Galangal

    Attractive leaves

    Attractive flowers

    Pot plant

    Wet sites

    Other uses of Greater Galangal

    Grown for its flowers. In traditional medicine the root is used for colds coughs and sore throats. The red fruit is used in Chinese traditional medicine. The roots are widely used as a flavouring in Indonesian and Thai food.


    This plant is recommended as a remedy for sea-sickness. it has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine.


    The rhizome is a common ingredient in Thai curries and soups. The leaves and young shoots are also edible.


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