Petal power

March 1, 2011

A team of plant experts from the Faculty of Applied Sciences, Universiti Teknologi MARA, have conducted research on the potential use of the plant growth regulators, paclobutrazol and uniconazole, to enhance flowering in Etlingera elatior.

The allure of Etlingera elatior (Malaysian Torch Ginger), commonly known as Bunga Kantan, in culinary and medicinal preparations is legendary. As this species has been gaining popularity as cut flowers in recent times, a team of plant experts from the Faculty of Applied Sciences conducted research on the potential use of the plant growth regulators, paclobutrazol and uniconazole, to enhance flowering. Application of plant growth regulators has been found to inhibit the vegetative growth but increase the flowering of Cucurma and Kaempferia species, from the same ginger family of Zingiberaceae as reduced cell elongation and vegetative growth allows more energy to be utilized for flowering.

In view of this, the study focused on the use of these compounds in Bunga Kantan for the mentioned purposes. The plant, which is supported by stout rhizomes has large, leafy stems and stands between 2–6 m tall. The most attractive part of the plant is the flowering shoot or inflorescence head which consists of the conspicuous bracts and . As the bract opens up, the lower ones turn down revealing a cone shaped torch, thus its name Torch Ginger.

According to the study conducted by Tsan Fui Ying, Farehan Fauzi, Sam Yen Yen, Zainuri Mohd Salleh and ZakariaTajudin, the vegetative growth of Etlingera elatior in terms of height, leaf area index, tiller number (development of vegetative shoots) and leaf number was inhibited by the application of paclobutrazol.

Inhibition effects, however, were only obvious after 3-4 months following the application of the plant growth regulator. Application of this compound at higher rates of 6 and 8 g/L resulted in compacted appearance of the plants and shiny green leaves.

Uniconazole, on the other hand, was not effective to inhibit the vegetative growth of Etlingera elatior. Treatment with this plant growth regulator at rates of 50mg/L applied twice and 75mg/L applied once or twice, however, could induce inflorescence development in this species. Their better flowering was thus tentatively attributed to the application of uniconazole.

And why do we care? As Malaysia is one of the richest regions for ginger diversity, for one, the discovery could help horticulturists explore the many underutilised species which hold great potential as ornamental and horticultural plants.

Explore further: Bulb dipping controls Easter lily growth

Related Stories

Bulb dipping controls Easter lily growth

December 29, 2010

In a recent issue of HortTechnology, Purdue University researchers Christopher J. Currey and Roberto G. Lopez reported on a study of the effects of a technique called "bulb dipping" on Easter lily. While plant growth retardants ...

Low level herbicide use can damage potato reproduction

January 7, 2009

Currently, plant testing in the United States to determine potential ecological risks from chemical pesticides to nontarget plants requires two tests, both of which use immature plants. Protection of the plant development ...

How plants learned to respond to changing environments

July 12, 2007

A team of John Innes centre scientists lead by Professor Nick Harberd have discovered how plants evolved the ability to adapt to changes in climate and environment. Plants adapt their growth, including key steps in their ...

How Your Garden Grows

May 25, 2005

Stumped scientists figure out plant growth mechanism Just how does your garden grow? Plant scientists have long pondered the same question. For decades, the plant science community has known that auxins--a class of plant ...

Recommended for you

The astonishing efficiency of life

November 17, 2017

All life on earth performs computations – and all computations require energy. From single-celled amoeba to multicellular organisms like humans, one of the most basic biological computations common across life is translation: ...

Unexpected finding solves 40-year old cytoskeleton mystery

November 17, 2017

Scientists have been searching for it for decades: the enzyme that cuts the amino acid tyrosine off an important part of the cell's skeleton. Researchers of the Netherlands Cancer Institute have now identified this mystery ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.