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Etlingera elatior

Family Name: Zingiberaceae
Synonyms: Nicolaia elatior, Phaeomeria speciosa, Nicolaia speciosa, Alpinia nutans
Common Name: Torch Ginger, Philippine Waxflower, Painted Net Leaf, Nerve Plant, Bunga Kantan, 玫瑰姜, 火炬姜, 瓷玫瑰
Full Sun Semi Shade Lots of Water Bird-Attracting Plant Herb or Spice Ornamental Flowers Herbaceous Plant


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Monocotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic


Native Distribution Indonesia, Thailand
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Cryptogenic

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a perennial herb which grows in large colonies. 
Foliage Numerous leaves; ligule measuring 1.5 cm long and glabrous; petiole measuring 1.5 - 4 cm long. Leaf blades are lanceolate in shape, measuring 38 - 85 cm long and 8 - 18 cm wide, glabrous. 
Stems Pseudostems, measuring 3 to 6 m tall. 
Flowers Inflorescence, terminal, ovoid shaped of head consisting spirally overlapping flowers, the base is surrounded by showy crimson-pink bracts; peduncle measuring 60 - 150 cm long and 0.8 - 1.5 cm wide with green and glabrous sheath; calyx measuring about 4 cm long; corolla is pink; filament white, short and flat, anther red and longer than filament.
Habitat It grows in primary and secondary forests, disturbed areas, and villages.
Cultivation It is widely cultivated and introduced as an ornamental plant in gardens in the tropical regions, where the flowers are commercialized as cut-flowers.
Etymology Its specific epithet elatior means tall, which refers to the plant height.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Flowers)
Food (Herb and Spice : The immature flower buds of the Torch Ginger have a unique fragrance and taste which is mainly used in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Some common dishes that use the flower bud are rojak and laksa. It can also be used as a garnish for sour-savoury soups. In Singapore and Malaysia, the bud is sometimes added to Peranakan fish curry. In Thailand, the raw bud is added to a salad called "khaao yam" or eaten with a spicy sauce.)
Medicinal ( It is believed that the decoction of its fruits is used to treat earaches, while the decoction of the leaves are used for cleansing wounds.)
Cut - Dried Flower ( It is cultivated for cut flowers in Hawaii and Australia.)

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting (Flowers)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna) (Vertebrates (Bat), Vertebrates (Other Mammal), Insects (Ant, Beetle))

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Sun
Water Preference Lots of Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Diseases The rhizomes can be infected with rhizome rot (caused by Pythium) and leaf spot (caused by Colletotrichum).
Propagation Method Seed, Division


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oblong, Lanceolate)
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Monocot)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Specialised Storage Organ(s) Underground (Rhizome)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Pink
Flower Texture(s) Smooth
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Inflorescence Type Head / Capitulum
Flowering Period Free-Flowering

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Green, Red
Mature Seed Colour(s) Black
Seed Quantity Per Fruit Numerous (>20)

Image Repository



Master ID 695
Species ID 1990
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 20 August 2022.