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Lesser Galangal (Alpinia officinarum)

Native to China and sometimes called fingerroot, lesser galangal has been a recent cause of confusion on BLF when trying to determine if you are actually growing the plant.

My lesser galangal grown from a GV donation started on 26-6-15

Greater Galangal – Can you tell the difference?

I think the most conclusive way of identifying if your Galangal-like plant is of the lesser variety is to harvest it. Once you do it becomes pretty obvious why it’s called fingerroot -

Part of my harvest from last week

The full harvest from one polystyrene vegetable container from over a year of growing

How much effort does it take to grow? Like most plants in the 'ginger family' it requires little maintenance or care. I planted into a container with fertile compost/soil mix, placed the container in a shady position and watered it once or twice a week. And that was all I did.

According to reports on the internet the rhizomes from the plant are especially medicinal and may have beneficial anti-cancer properties. From Wikipedia - “lpinia officinarum contains high concentrations of the flavonol galangin,[3] which has been shown to slow the increase and growth of breast tumor cells.[4][5] Historically, the rhizomes were reputed to have stimulant and digestive effects.[1]”

But what about the taste? There is a reason I think why it’s not as well-known or used as much as greater galangal. The rhizomes do taste medicine-like but at the same time are interestingly spicy. Eating it raw it has to my taste an overpowering taste but added to a Dahl or stew in small quantities it has the potential to be an interesting flavour enhancer.

Overall I think it is worth growing if you have space for it in a large pot even if it is just to enjoy its ornamental tropical appearance and exotic origins. A low maintenance edible unusual plant.

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Comment by Rob Collings on July 10, 2016 at 22:00

Nice harvests of both types Phil and Roger. Ive haven't seen what lesser galangal looks like until now.

Comment by Phil on July 10, 2016 at 20:27

Hi Roger - yes that's right the lesser variety is more like turmeric in texture perhaps even softer. The taste may be more of an acquired one though.  I've also found the rhizomes of the greater variety tough so I chop them up rather than grate them. Standard ginger is the best crop of these types of plants IMO but I like having the different varieties around and they all have different medicinal benefits. 

Comment by Roger Clark on July 10, 2016 at 8:13

Phil, I have only grown the greater variety. I didn't know there were two types. The greater type was quite difficult to use, stringy, difficult to grate. I wasn't very keen on it. The lesser type looks more like the consistency of Turmeric root, much softer. Is this the case?

Comment by Lissa on July 10, 2016 at 3:31

Thanks Phil. I still haven't harvested mine (lesser or greater). I've never used it in cooking to date so it's still the unfamiliar at the moment.

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