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Family Zingibereaceae
Bamboo ginger
Alpinia luteocarpa Elm.

Scientific names Common names
Alpinia luteocarpa Elmer Luyang itim (Tag.) (?)
  Bamboo ginger (Engl.)
  Dwarf bamboo ginger (Engl.)
  Red bamboo ginger (Engl.)
  Purple ladder (Engl.)
  Small shell ginger (Engl.)
Alpinia luteocarpa Elmer is an unresolved name The Plant List

Genus Alpinia is named after the Italian botanist and physician professor Prospero Alpino (1553-1616). Luteocarpa means yellow fruit. ("Alpini, Prospero." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 14 Aug. 2007 at http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9005902.) (1)

Bamboo ginger is an aromatic low-growing herb growing up to 1.5 meters high, with horizontal undergrown rhizomes and erect stems. Leaves are lanceolate, grey green to dark green on the upper surface with red or dark reddish purple underside, wide at the base and narrowing to the tip, arranged in a single plane along the stem. Flowers are in clusters of three to five at the ends of branches, each flower with several dark brown to purple bracts that clasp the stalk of the flower. Each flower has a pink to red calyx fused along its length, with white petals fused along half their length. Each flower contains six stamens, with one fertile pollen-producing stamen. Fruit is yellow, round, and three parted, containing many small seeds. (1)

- Native to the Philippines.
- Also occurs in India, Thailand, and the Malay Peninsula.
- A related species, Alpinia galanga, also known as Kha or Galangal, is native to India.

- No studies found.

- Rhizome considered aromatic and carminative.
- Like other Alpinias, leaves smell gingery when crushed, with a mild, fruity fragrance.

Parts used


- Fruit reported as inedible.
- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- Rhizome used for digestive disorders.
- Used in traditional Chinese medicine for its warming properties.

Pathogenesis-Related Protein 5:
Pathogenesis related protein 5 (PR5) is a family of proteins induced by different phytopathgens in many plants and share a sequence similar to thaumatin. In the study, 8 putative PR5 genes were clone from different species of Zingebereaceae, including A. luteocarpa. Analysis of various protein properties led to the identification of putative antimicrobial domains the these PR5s. (4)


Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Update October 2015

IMAGE SOURCE: / Photo / Fruit / © P. Goltra / click on image to go to source page / National Tropical Botanical Garden
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: / Photo / Leaves / Red bamboo ginger / © Polynesian Produce Stand / Click on image to go to source page)

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Alpinia luteocarpa / National Tropical Botanical Garden
Alpinia luteocarpa Elmer [family ZINGIBERACEAE] / Identification / JSTOR Global Plants
Alpinia luteocarpa / EOL
Comparative study of pathogenesis-related protein 5 (PR5) of different Zingiberaceae species / D. Prasath, Vijay Mahantesh, Rosana O. Babu, Manonmani Anandaraj et al / Indian Journal of Biotechnology

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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