Plant Information

Scientific Name: Boesenbergia rotunda
Alternative Names: Fingerroot, Lesser Galangal, Chinese Ginger

Package Format5L bag

Boesenbergia rotunda


  • Perennial
  • Chinese keys are indigenous to Java and Sumatra but are now being cultivated in China and Southeast Asia where it became an important spice and food plant.
  • It is a member of the Ginger family and has large leaves growing from a short rhizome and bears a bunch of finger-like, fleshy, orange-brown roots – hence the English name Finger root.
  • Pink orchid-like flowers are borne in pairs at the tips of the short stems.
  • Although it is a tropical climate plant it will also do well in temperate regions.
  • In cold areas the rhizomes will die back in winter.
  • They can be lifted in autumn, stored in a paper bag in a dark cool place and planted again in the Spring.
  • Chinese keys can be grown in full sun or semi shade.
  • It can be propagated by division of the short branching rhizomes.

Culinary Uses

  • The roots are bright yellow inside and have an aromatic, spicy flavour and crunchy texture.
  • The flavour is similar to culinary ginger (Zingiber officinale), but sweeter and much less pungent.
  • Most westerners are unfamiliar with this culinary spice.
  • Chinese keys are usually used fresh, sliced thin and added to salads or as a garnish.
  • Small amounts are added to curries, soups and pickles.
  • Today it is commonly used as an ingredient of instant soups produced in China.
  • The hearts of stems, young leaves and new shoots can be eaten raw as a side dish with rice.
  • It can also be cut finely, mixed with coconut and spices, wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed.

Parts Used

  • Harvesting can be done any time of the year.

Medicinal Uses. It is said that

  • The fresh and dried roots and rhizomes are used as aromatic, digestive medicine to treat flatulence, colic indigestion, diarrhoea and dysentery.
The information contained within this website is for educational purposes only. This site merely recounts the traditional uses of specific plants as recorded through history. Always seek advice from a medical practitioner.

Mountain Herb Estate, and its representatives will not be held responsible for the improper use of any plants or documentation provided. By use of this site and the information contained herein you agree to hold harmless Mountain Herb Estate, its affiliates and staff

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