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Alpinia aquatica (Retz.) Roscoe.

Family Name: Zingiberaceae
Synonyms: Alpinia melanocarpa (Teijsm. & Binn.) Ridl., Languas melanocarpa (Teijsm. & Binn.) Burkill
Common Name: Aquatic Ginger, Aquatic Galangal, 水山姜
Full Sun: 6-8h Semi-Shade Lots of Water Moderate Water Bird-Attracting Caterpillar Food Plant Native to Singapore Coastal Ornamental Flowers Woody Herbaceous


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Monocotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub (Herbaceous)
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular
Maximum Height 2 m


Native Distribution Singapore, China (Yunnan), South India and West Malesia
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest, Coastal Forest, Freshwater Swamp Forest, Riverine), Shoreline (Backshore)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Critically Endangered (CR))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a herb consisting of a horizontally growing stem (rhizome) from which several "shoots" arise. These shoots, up to 2 m tall consist of the leaf sheaths of consecutive, alternate leaves wrapped around each other. Plant parts contain aromatic oils, so exude a fragrance when they are crushed.
Foliage Each leaf consists a long leaf sheath and a lance-shaped leaf that is 15-20 cm long and 5-6 cm wide.
Flowers Its 19 mm long flowers develop on shoots that are up to 15 cm long, and have white or pale pink petals.
Fruits Its pea-like black fleshy fruit is one-seeded.
Habitat It grows in sandy beaches and swamp forests. It is found locally in Pulau Semakau and widely planted in HortPark, Kent Ridge Park and Singapore Botanic Gardens (Ginger Garden).
Associated Fauna Its flowers are pollinated by bees and the fruits are eaten by birds. It is also the host plant for the Chocolate Demon butterfly (Ancistroides nigrita maura).
Cultivation It can propagated by seed or division of the rhizome.
Etymology Latin, Alpinia, after Prosper Alpino (1553-1617), an Italian botanist who introduced coffee and bananas to Europe. Latin, aquatica, living in water, referring to the growing conditions of this plant species.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for parks, gardens, and also for edges of ponds and waterlogged soil.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site, Does not Drain Site), Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Fertile Loamy Soils
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Coastal, Beachfront / Shoreline, Riverine, Marsh / Bog
Thematic Landscaping Naturalistic Garden, Water Garden, Marsh Garden
Species record last updated on: 28 September 2020.