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Etlingera hemisphaerica (Blume) R. M. Smith

Family Name: Zingiberaceae
Synonyms: Amomum hemisphaericum, Elettaria hemisphaerica, Phaeomeria hemisphaerica, Cardamomum hemisphaericum, Nicolaia hemisphaerica, Alpinia hemisphaerica
Common Name: Helani Tulip Ginger, Helani Tulip Torch Ginger, Tulip Torch, Black Torch Ginger
Full Sun Semi Shade Lots of Water Fruit or Vegetable Ornamental Flowers Herbaceous Plant


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
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
Maximum Height 3 m to 6 m


Native Distribution Indonesia (Sumatra and Java), Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical

Description and Ethnobotany

Others - Plant Morphology Growth Form: Rhizomatous perennial with leafy shoots that occur in clumps. Habitat: Occurs in primary and secondary forests at altitudes of up to 950 m. Stem: Stem is round and herbaceous. Foliage: Glossy, alternate leaves are oblong with a wavy leaf margin, rounded base and acute apex (80 cm long, 15 cm wide). Young foliage is green on top and dark red to purple on the underside. Mature foliage is green on both sides with sometimes a light reddish hue on the underside. Flowers: About 40 - 50 flowers are arranged in a cup-shaped or tulip-like inflorescence (~6 cm wide). Only a few flowers are open at any given time. The inflorescences are borne on floral stalks that lack leaves (0.5 - 0.6 m tall). Fruits: A group of 2 - 20 indehiscent fruits are fused together. Individual fruits are pubescent and globular with an apex that is flattened or a little depressed. The fruits are an important food source for rodents. Landscaping: This species is planted in parks and public gardens. It is also planted in home gardens, but one should consider the large size this species attains at maturity (3 - 6 m) before planting. This species has low salt tolerance, so avoid planting in beach settings. However, it can be grown in a pot indoors, because the smaller soil volume will result in a more compact plant. In Hawaii, this species is often used in landscaping. Cultivation: Plant in soil that is rich in humus. Protect plants from wind. When grown indoors, this species requires a humid environment and thorough watering. Propagation: Propagate by seed or by division of the rhizome. Etymology: The genus name "Etlingera" was named after A.E. Etlinger, a botanist of the 18th century who published an extensive description of the genus Salvia. The species epithet "hemisphaerica" means hemispherical. It likely refers to the cup-shaped inflorescence.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Leaves, Edible Stems)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable)
[Others]: Food: Inflorescences and fruits (both unripe and ripe) are consumed raw or cooked. The leafy shoots are also edible.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses General, Container Planting
Species record last updated on: 23 February 2022.