|Shell ginger as a streetplant|
|Shell ginger fruit dehiscing.|
(Pers.) B. L. Burtt and R. M. Smith
Alpinia zerumbet, commonly known as shell ginger, is a perennial species of ginger native to East Asia. They can grow up to 8 to 10 ft (2.4 to 3.0 m) tall and bear colorful funnel-shaped flowers. They are grown as ornamentals and their leaves are used in cuisine and traditional medicine. They are also sometimes known as the pink porcelain lily, variegated ginger or butterfly ginger.
Native to eastern Asia, this plant is a rhizomatous, evergreen tropical perennial that grows in upright clumps 8 to 10 ft (2.4 to 3.0 m) tall in tropical climates. It bears funnel-formed flowers. Flowers have white or pink perianths with yellow labella with red spots and stripes. There are three stamens, but only one has pollen. There is one pistil. The fruit is globose with many striations. In more typical conditions, it reaches 4 to 8 ft (1.2 to 2.4 m) feet tall in the green house, and 3 to 4 ft (0.91 to 1.22 m) feet tall, as a house plant.
Alpinia zerumbet is best grown in rich medium-wet, to wet well drained soils in full sun to part shade. Afternoon shade in hot summer climates, is recommended. Indoors, the plant must have bright light and humid conditions. Flowering rarely occurs before the second year.
Alpinia zerumbet is called a "shell ginger" or "shell flower" most commonly, because its individual pink flowers, especially when in bud, resemble sea shells. Other common names in English include "pink porcelain lily", "variegated ginger, "butterfly ginger", and "light galangal".
The plant's long leaf blades are still used for wrapping zongzi. In Okinawa, Japan, A. zerumbet is known in the local dialect as sannin, or in Japanese as getto. Its leaves are sold as herbal tea and are also used to flavour noodles and wrap mochi rice cakes. Its tea has hypotensive, diuretic and antiulcerogenic properties. Decoction of leaves has been used during bathing to alleviate fevers.. The leaves and rhizomes have been proven effective against HIV-1 integrase and neuraminidase enzymes, and has also shown anti-diabetic effect through inhibitions of formation of advanced glycation end products. Besides, the antioxidant activities of different parts of Alpinia zerumbet has already been reported.
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- Advanced glycation end product inhibitors from Alpinia zerumbet. Chompoo etal. Food Chem. 2011,129,709-715.
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- Elzaawelly etal.Food Chem.2007,103,486.
- Alpinia zerumbet (Pers.) Burtt. et Smith Medicinal Plant Images Database (School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University) (traditional Chinese) (English)