Sex. Syst. Monandria, Monogynia.
Two kinds of galangal root (radix galangae), a lesser and a greater, have long been known in medicine: to these Guibourt has added a third, which he calls light galangal. These three sorts are the produce of different parts of the East, and probably of different species of Alpinia.
1. Radix galangae majoris; greater or Java galangal root.—This is the root of the Alpinia Galanga, Linn. It is a coarser and larger root, with a feebler and somewhat different odour from that of the lesser galangal root. Although it occasionally comes to Europe, I cannot learn that it finds any use here.
2. Radix galangae minoris; lesser or Chinese galangal root.—This is the root of a plant growing in China, according to Guibourt, [Guibourt, Hist. Nat. des Drogues simples, t. ii. p. 200, 4éme éd. 1849.] the Alpinia chinensis, Roscoe (Hellenia chinensis, Willd.). It may perhaps be Alpinia alba, which Koenig calls galanga alba. It is brought to England from China either directly or by way of Singapore. It is the only sort usually kept by English druggists. It occurs in pieces which are as thick as the finger, seldom exceeding three inches in length, cylindrical or somewhat tuberous, often forked, sometimes slightly striated longitudinally, and marked with whitish circular rings. Externally its colour is dull reddish-brown; internally pale, reddish-white. Its odour is agreeably aromatic; its taste peppery and aromatic. It has been analyzed by Bucholz [Trommsdorff's Journal, xxv. 2, p. 3.] and by Morin. [Journ. de Pharm, ix. p. 257.] The former obtained volatile oil 0.5, acrid soft resin 4.9, extractive 9.7, gum 8.2, bassorin 41.5, woody fibre 21.6, water 12.3, loss 1.3. It is a warm and agreeable aromatic, and is sometimes administered in the form of infusion in dyspepsia. Its effects, uses, and doses are analogous to those of ginger. It is, however, rarely employed in England—its principal consumption being on the continent.
3. Radix galangae levis; galanga leger, Guibourt; light galangal root.—This variety, according to M. Guibourt, is characterized by its great lightness; its weight being not more than a third of that of the previous sort. Its epidermis is smooth and shining. It is, perhaps, the root of Alpinia nutans (Roscoe), which Dr. Roxburgh [Asiatic Researches, vol. xi. p. 318.] states is odorous, and is sometimes brought to England for galanga major.