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BOTANICAL NAME: Boesenbergia rotunda previously B. pandurata
COMMON NAMES: Krachai; Chinese Keys; Kachai; Kunci
FAMILY: Zingiberaceae, the ginger family
ORIGIN: Java and Sumatra

A tropical perennial herb to 50 - 70 cm tall with underground rhizomes. The leaves are soft green, broad and emerge on stems rising from the base of the plant. The flowers are pale lilac and grow on short stems from the outside of the clump. The underground part of the plant consists of a rhizome with fat fleshy rootlets hanging from it. The rootlets look a bit like a bunch of baby carrots, but are dull beige in colour. This growth habit is where the common name Chinese Keys derives from. It is native to monsoon forests, requires a well-drained soil, frost-free climate and 150 cm of rain annually or supplementary irrigation. It thrives best on loamy or alluvial fertile soils and likes the addition of well-rotted manure or compost.

This rhizome, belonging to the ginger family, is widely cultivated in Thailand for its aromatic, spicy flavour. It is eaten raw in salads, made into pickles, added to soups and curries especially those made of seafood. Both the rhizomes and the hearts of stems are eaten raw as a side dish with rice. Young leaves and shoots, along with the rhizomes , are cut finely, mixed with coconut and spices, wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed.

Recommended planting time: plant in spring, when the soil has warmed up, 5-10 cm deep.
Sowing rate: it can be planted on ridges, usually about 30 cm apart and with 15-23 cm between plants. The crop is planted by setts (small rhizomes).

Rhizomes are harvested when the leaves have yellowed or died.

SORRY but due to quarantine restrictions between Australian States no plants at all can be ordered by residents of Norfolk Island, Tasmania and Western Australia. These restrictions are very important as they prevent the spread of plant pests and diseases. No potatoes, garlic, shallots, strawberries or tubestock can be sent to South Australia. No tubestock can be sent to Northern Territory.
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