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GARDENING

Hardy spice



Alpinia sanderae ... hardy and easy to grow.

ALPINIA is a genus of humid tropical plants coming under the family Giniberaceae. Ginger is a spice and medicinal plant and is a member of the family.

Alpinia sanderae from New Guinea is an important foliage plant that is also included in the family. The plant has 45 cm high clustered leafy stems with pinnately arranged pale green lance-shaped leaflets obliquely banded with pure white.

The plant is good for growing in shaded moist areas or in pots in plant houses. Because of its hardiness and easy growth it has become a popular and useful indoor plant.

The plant loves to grow in a loose leaf mould added soil mixture. Water the plant well for good growth.

Though the plant likes shade, too much of it can rob it of its white streaks. Growth of the plant compared to some other indoor plants is fast. Alpinia sanderae is easily propagated by division of clumps.

Alpinia galanga is a two to three metre tall plant with fragrant rhizomes and is from the Western Ghats. It is commonly known as "Sugantha" or "Rasna" among Ayurveda physicians and as "Chittaratta" in Malayalam. It is sometimes found growing in indoor collections in places like Chennai. The root of the plant is a remedy for rheumatism, asthma and other respiratory ailments. The rhizomes are also useful for clearing the throat/voice.

Alpinia calcarata, "Peraratta" in Malayalam, is another member of Gingiberaceae and also comes from the Western Ghats. It is smaller and like Alpinia galanga does not have white markings on the leaves. Rhizomes of the plant are also used to adulterate "Sugandha".

Alpinia galanga and Alpinia calcarata are hardier and as they do not have variegated leaves, do tolerate more sun than the exotic Alpinia sanderae.

Text and picture by O.T. RAVINDRAN

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