Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Growing galangal

The tropical and subtropical edible forest story continues:

And then came two species of galangal, bought from Companion Plants at the Ohio Pawpaw Festival last September (and screened for either explosives or drugs at airport security in Columbus - the screener had also never heard of pawpaws, the Ohio state fruit). 

Galanga alpinia looks a lot like cardamom (in the background), ginger and turmeric (all members of the Zingerberaceae family) and it kept its leaves indoors through winter. Now, in sticky August, it is shooting for the waxing moon.

The more exotic-looking Kaempferia galanga is native to the shaded and humid forests of Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Southeast Asia. It is endangered in the wild. It is one of several plants referred to as galangal and is used as a herb and spice as well as medicinally and in perfumery.

It disappeared completely, indoors, so for most of the winter the worried Frenchman looked at what he thought was a dying plant and then an empty pot (I was in South Africa for three months when my father was ill and passed away). When I came back I wiggled my fingers under the soil to see if its rhizome was still sturdy and firm. It was. We relaxed. It was just sleeping. Every few weeks I gave the invisible plant a light drink. In May it went outdoors when the temperatures overnight stayed above 50'F. In very early June the first leaves appeared, tightly furled and upright, before they relaxed and lay flat on the soil's surface.  It hates direct sun, so is sheltered behind a leafy salvia.

And today (TODAY) I glanced down while sipping my morning coffee on the terrace and noticed what looked like a fallen white flower on the leaves. I looked more closely. It bloomed!

While I bought these two plants to use in the kitchen I am not sure when I will steel myself to eat up some rhizome. But their leaves are heavily aromatic, and maybe soon I will snip one, and begin the Malaysian experiments I have been longing to try.



  1. And what a metaphor... nurturing something that has disappeared, and then the joy when in the right season it starts blooming.

  2. I love your gardens. From the original 66 sq feet (my fav) to 1st Place, each and everyone has been a feast for the eyes.


Comments on posts older than 48 hours are moderated (for spam control) . Yours will be seen! Unless you are a troll. Serial trollers are banned.