- Scientific name: Etlingera elatior
- Family: Zingiberaceae (ginger)
Rhizomatous perennial herb up to 6m tall. Leaves up to 85cm long, flushed purple when young, leathery with a central groove. Collections of flowers (inflorescences) grow at end of stalk, bracts spreading, deep pink with paler margin, floral bracts smaller, pink and fleshy. Fruiting heads measure 10x10cm, with each individual fruit hairy and green-red. Pollinated mainly by spiderhunter birds.
- Grown throughout tropical South East Asia for the spectacular flowers and for food.
- The stems of the flowers are chopped up and added to curries or soups with rice noodles.
Where it grows
Native to Malesia, a biogeographical region incorporating Indo-malaysia and Australasia. Torch ginger thrives in full to partial shade and, like most Etlingera, prefers disturbed areas.
- Bract: modified or specialised leaf in a flowering structure (inflorescence).
- Herb: plant with fleshy parts rather than a persistent woody stem above ground.
- Perennial: lives for at least two years.
- Rhizome: underground, horizontal stem, not root.