Plant of the month: January
This relative of ginger is an aromatic medicine, which was often used as an antidote to poisoning. The name means ‘without blame’ suggesting its use as a cure all. It is a robust herb in the ginger family with stalked leaves to about two metres in height, strange indeed that its flowers barely break the surface of the soil and open fully at the base of the stem. Pollinated by bees even at this low altitude the flower buds are used to make curries and the dried seed capsules have a similar aroma and taste to cardamom pods. Despite being all the way from the Eastern Himalaya this plant thrives in our sub-tropical house – remember to look down for the flowers not up at the leaves!