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Alpinia mutica


Alpinia mutica Roxb.

Family Name: Zingiberaceae
Synonyms: Catimbium muticum (Roxb.) Holttum, Languas mutica (Roxb.) Merr., Renealmia mutica (Roxb.) Salisb., Alpinia korthalsii K. Schum., Alpinia laxiflora Gagnep., Alpinia mutica var. laxiflora (Gagnep.) Gagnep., Languas korthalsii (K.Schum.) Merr., Languas laxiflora (Gagnep.) Merr.
Common Name: Orchid Ginger, Small Shell Ginger, False Cardamom

The Orchid Ginger is a popular ginger plant for landscaping in Singapore. It has lovely orchid-like flowers that are white with a deep yellow lip decorated with dark red lines and spots, its round fruit are an attractive orange-red colour. When crushed, its lance-shaped foliage releases a spicy aroma similar to that of cinnamon and citrus. It grows well in Singapore under semi-shade and in moist soil.


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Genus Epithet
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Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 1 m to 2 m


Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Spontaneous (Casual))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Herbaceous plant forming dense clumps up to 2 m tall.
Foliage The linear to lance-shaped leaves (40-60 cm long, 10-13 cm wide) are arranged in 2 files along the stem. Crushed leaves produce a spicy fragrance similar to that of cinnamon and citrus.
Stems It produces an underground horizontal stem, known as a rhizome.
Flowers The flowers are arranged in a terminal inflorescence known as a cyme. The shell-shaped, white flower (5.5-5.7 cm long) hangs down from a green stalk and has an ornamental yellow lip with red dots and lines, lasting about one day. In Singapore, this plant regularly flowers.
Fruits The ball-shaped, fleshy fruit is known as a capsule (~3 cm wide) and matures from green to orange or red. It contains many black, angled seeds (6-7 mm long). The seeds may germinate while still attached to the parent plant.
Habitat It naturally occurs in swampy areas.
Associated Fauna The flowers are pollinated by Carpenter Bees (Xylocopa spp.) and Blue-banded Bees (Amegilla spp.).
Cultivation It grows best in rich, organic soil kept moist and tolerates waterlogged soils. Young plants need semi-shade or filtered light, while established plants can tolerate full sun in a humid climate. Cut down old stems once or twice a year. Sometimes, it is attacked by mealy bugs.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Stems)
Medicinal ( In Peninsular Malaysia, an infusion of the rhizome (the underground horizontal stem) is taken to treat digestion problems and the fruit is used to reduce inflammation. This use is supported by research that found the rhizome to be rich in anti-fungal and anti-bacterial compounds, as well as antioxidants.)

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Fragrant (Foliage)
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Well-Drained Soils, Moist Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens, Hedge / Screening
Thematic Landscaping Marsh Garden

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bee-Attracting
Pollination Method(s)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Propagation Method Seed, Division


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Leathery, Glossy / Shiny
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Lanceolate, Linear)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire - Wavy / Undulate
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Foliar Base Acute, Clasping
Typical Foliar Area Macrophyll ( 182.25cm2 - 1640.25 cm2 )
Typical Foliar Size From 40
Typical Foliar Size To 60
Typical Foliar Size Unit cm

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) White, Yellow / Golden, Red
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Flower Symmetry Bilateral
Individual Flower Shape Labiate / Lipped
Flower Size - Length 5.6 cm

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Red, Orange
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Velvety / Furry / Tomentose
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Fleshy Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Capsule
Mature Seed Colour(s) Black

Image Repository



Master ID 33794
Species ID 8210
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: 07 June 2023.