Eric WC Chan*a, Yau Yan Limb and Siu Kuin Wongb
aFaculty of Applied Sciences, UCSI University, 56000 Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
bSchool of Science, Monash University Sunway Campus, Bandar Sunway, 46150 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Etlingera species are large ginger plants which grow in clumps. Their rhizomes are subterranean, creeping and aromatic. Crushed leaves of each species emit a distinctive scent. Inflorescences are borne on erect stalks protruding from the ground (Phaeomeria group) or are found at the soil level (Achasma group). The colourful flowers and leaves of Etlingera make them very attractive plants. The World Checklist of Selected Plant Families has documented 100 accepted names of Etlingera species. In Peninsular Malaysia, 15 Etlingera species have been recorded. In Java, Indonesia, nine species are known, and Borneo has 42 species of which 16 were until recently unknown. Three species are reported in China. The various species of the genus are used as foods, spices, condiments, medicines and ornaments. Etlingera elatior (torch ginger) is the best known and most studied species. In this review, the current knowledge on the botany, uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of leaves, inflorescences and rhizomes of five selected Etlingera species is reviewed. The species included Etlingera elatior, Etlingera fulgens and Etlingera maingayi of the Phaeomeria group, and Etlingera littoralis and Etlingera rubrostriata of the Achasma group.
Keywords: Zingiberaceae, phenolic compounds, essential oils, bioactivities.