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Family Zingiberaceae
Alpinia elegans (C.Presl) K.Schum

Scientific names Common names
Alpinia elegans K. Schum. Bagombon (Tag.)
Alpinia gigantea Fern.-Vill. Bagongbong (Tag.)
Alpinia gracilis (Blanco) Rolfe Katkatan (Bis.)
Hellenia gracilis (Blanco) Hausskn. Katotang (Bis.)
Kolowratia elegans C.Presl Salbak (Tag.)
Languas elegans (C.Presl) Burkill Tagbak (Tag.)
Renealmia gracilis Blanco Tugbak (Tag.)
Kolowratia elegans C.Presl is a synonym of Alpinia elegans (C.Presl) K.Schum The Plant List
Alpinia elegans (C.Presl) K.Schum. is an accepted name The Plant List

Tagbak is a stout herbaceous plant, growing to a height of 2 to 4 meters, with stout rootstocks. Stems are swollen at the base, and leafy throughout. Leaves are leathery, spreading or reflexed, oblong-ovate to lanceolate, 25 to 60 centimeters long, 5 to 20 centimeters wide, with a pointed tip. Petioles are short and stout. Inflorescence is about 30 centimeters long, the base of the peduncle having oblong-lanceolate, chartaceous, 8 to 12 centimeters long bracts. The branches are about 8, scattered, spreading, stout, about 5 centimeters long, covered with persistent bracts, each branch bearing several to many flowers, opening one at a time. Calyx is about 4 centimeters long. Corolla is pale straw-colored, about 7 centimeters long, with the tube cylindric, and the upper lobe about 4 centimeters long, concave, and erect, while the other two are as long but are reflexed and oblong-ovate. Lip is about as long as the corolla-lobes, and spreading. Capsule is ellipsoid, woody and 3 to 4 centimeters long, split into 3 valves and crowned by a persistent calyx.

- In thickets along streams, at low and medium altitudes in
Apayao, Amburayan, Lepanto, Nueva Viscaya, Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Rizal, Laguna, Quezon, and Sorsogon Provinces in Luzon; in Polilio; in Mindanao; and Leyte.
- Endemic species.

- A study for repellent constituents yielded
α-pinene, α-terpinene, ß-phellandrene, linalool, ß-pinene, p-cymene, camphene, 1,8,cineole, and citronellol. (see study below) (4)

- Studies suggest repellent and antimicrobial properties.

Parts utilized
Rhizomes, leaves, stems.

- Fruit rind is edible, a little woody in texture. (3)
- Decoction of rhizomes used for hemoptysis.
- Pounded leaves, mixed with a little salt rubbed on paralyzed extremities.
- Juice from macerated young stems used for urticaria.

- Reported use for muskuloskeletal diseases in the Surigao del Sur mountain range. (5)

Antimicrobial: Studies on the antimicrobial properties of Zingiber purpureum Rosc. and Kolowratia elegans Presl. (Family Zingiberaceae) (1)
Pacovatinins A-C:: Study isolated three new labdane diterpenoids, pacovatinins A-C from the seeds of the Brazilian plant Renealmia exaltata.
Renealtins A and B: Study isolated two new diarylheptanoids, renealtins A and B from the seeds of R exaltata.
Repellent: Study investigated the mechanism for reduced green leaf hopper population in rice fields with tagbak (Alpinia elegans). Results showed N. virescnes, an important vector of tungro, was repelled by the odors released from the leaf discs of tagbak. The repellent chemicals were the green leafhopper were α-pinene, α-terpinene, ß-phellandrene, linalool, ß-pinene, p-cymene, camphene, 1,8,cineole, and citronellol. Results suggest tagbak can be used to reduce dependence of synthetic insecticides, an alternative pest management strategy in organic and low-input rice production. (4)
• Mosquito Repellent
/ Leaves: Study evaluated the efficacy of a crude extract of leaves of Alpinia elegains against Aedes aegypti. (6)


Updated April 2017 / July 2015

Photos / Content © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Studies on the antimicrobial properties of Zingiber purpureum Rosc. and Kolowratia elegans Presl. (Family Zingiberaceae)
/ Oliveros, M.B. , Bruce, B.E. (Philippines Univ. Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines / Plant physiology and biochemistry, v. 42(1-4) p. 267-287, Jan-Dec 1991
Alpinia elegans / Synonyms / The Plant List
Native wild edible : Alpinia elegans / Balinghasai Farms
Behavioral and Olfactory Responses of Rice Green Leaf Hopper, Nephottetix virescens (Distant) to Volatile Cues from Tagbak (Alpinia elegans (C. Presl) K. Schum) / Susan May F. Calumpang, Gideon Aries S. Burgonio, Marcela M. Navasero and Mario V. Navasero / Philippine Journal of Science, 142 (2): 167-173, December 2013
A Survey of Ethnomedicinal Plants in Surigao Del Sur Mountain Range, Philippines / Freddie A. Blasco *, Gerard Q. De Guzman and Grecebio Jonathan D. Alejandro / INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PURE & APPLIED BIOSCIENCE
Efficacy of the Mosquito Repellent Spray of the Crude Extract from the Leaves of Alpinia elegans (Tagbak) against Aedes aegypti / Padilla, G., Quetua, F., Tapaoan, S., Tropicales, K., Yambao, J / Our Lady of Fatima University (The study won 1st place in the 2016 DOST-PCHRD-Gruppo Medica Award for Oustanding Undergraduate Thesis in Herbal Medicine)

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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