Family: Zingiberaceae

Synonyms: Amomum filiforme, Gandasulium coronarium, Gandasulium lingulatum, Hedychium chrysoleucum, Hedychium gandasulium, Hedychium lingulatum, Hedychium maximum, Hedychium prophetae, Hedychium spicatum, Hedychium sulphureum, Kaempferia hedychium.

Common Name: Butterfly Ginger, Butterfly Ginger Lily, White Ginger Lily, Garland Flower. wild ginger

Local Name: Safed – Banadark (सफ़ेद बनअदरक) 

Safed- Banadark is a perennial deciduous, herb of Western Himalaya displaying delicate, white, lily-like flowers. Plant is in flower from summer end to autumn according to habitat. Flowers are strongly aromatic and butterfly shaped, so the common name of this plant is Butterfly Ginger .

Safed- Banadark growing wild

It is most fragrant  wild ginger among all Hedychium species and grows best in rich moist habitat with sunny or partial shady position. It is commonly seen growing in moist places like along streams, banks of rivers, in swampy or open wet areas and on forest edges up to an altitude of 2500m in Western Himalayas. Safed- Banadark spread considerably by means of rhizomes or cut section of rhizome. Sometime due to its luxuriant growth it is often considered as a noxious weed to be removed.

Young flower bud, flowers and rhizome of safed- banadark are edible and eaten cooked.  Steam cooked young buds or fresh flower petals are used in making many traditional dishes like rayata, curries, kachru and pakoras and can also be used as a flavouring agent. Its rhizome is ether cooked or pickled to harness rich medicinal value of this plant. Safed- Banadark flowers are also dried and preserved for later uses.

Safed- Banadark is usually gathered from the wild as source of food, medicine and essential oil. Sometimes it is also cultivated as a garden ornamental and is often employed as a source of cut flowers. Safed- Banadark is particularly valued for its high-quality essential oil and medicinal uses. Safed- Banadark is native to East India and is the national plant of Cuba.

Safed – Banadark Plant:

Plant is perennial deciduous, herb  1 – 2.5 m tall  develop from a fleshy rhizome.

Stem to 1.5 m high, robust, densely clumped; rhizome horizontal.

Leaves are lance-shaped and sharp-pointed, 8-24 in long and 2-5 in wide and arranged in 2 neat ranks that run the length of the stem..

A plant of safed- banadark

Inflorescence is spike; spike is 15 x 7 cm, ovoid; bracts 5 x 2 cm, oblong, obtuse and glabrous.

Flowers are delicate, white, lily-like strongly aromatic and butterfly shaped, 2-4 in each bracts; calyx 4 cm long, not split, glabrous; corolla tube 9 cm long, narrow, glabrous, lobes 3.5 cm long, slender, glabrous; lip 6 x 6 cm; lobes emarginate, anthers 1.5 cm long, filaments shorter than lip.

Bloom in safed- banadark

Fruit is pod with bright red seeds.

Safed- Banadark best edible flowers and young buds can be from beginning of autumn to mid winters. Rhizome should be harvested after flowering and fruiting is over to ensure sustainable development from pre- winter to spring season of the year. Edible plant parts should be collected by rotating habitat and keeping some reproductive plant parts ( flower and buds)  to ensure sustainable development.

Edible uses:

Flower buds as well as flowers of safed- banadark are edible. These are prepared as a snack called kachru  in local dialect. The flowers are also used for making rayataa, pakoras and curries. Rhizomes are also edible and eaten cooked but their pickle is more common and favoured item. Recipes of these preparation is given below.

Safed – Banadark flowers Kachru:

Kachru is prepared by making a paste of flower petal with besan or corn flour and mixing it with spices.


For preparing 1/2 kg flower kachru ingredients one will need 1/2 kg besan (black gram flour) or corn flour,1 cup fresh coriander leaves (chopped), 3-5 green chillies, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 medium sized chopped onions and salt according to taste.

Harvested flowers for cooking


Make a paste of flowers, basen and spices listed above. Mix well. Heat some oil on a flat cooking pan and spread paste on it. Heat for 15-20 minutes occasionally turning it to other side and kachru will be ready. Serve hot with tomato sauce or some other ketchup.

Preparations of safed- banadark flowers are very much liked due to their unique taste and fragrance.  These are also believed to be good for health due to the medicinal properties of safed- banadark plant.

kachru from safed- banadark flowers

Rayata from buds and flowers:


1/2 kg fresh flower and buds, 1 Kg curd, 1 cup fresh coriander leaves (chopped), 3-5 green chillies, a pinch of black pepper powder, 1 table spoon rai powder, 2-3 medium sized chopped onions and salt according to taste.


Boil and squeeze safed- banadark flowers & young buds. Add these to curd with ingredients listed above or add after shallow frying in hot oil with onion and other spices listed above. Garnish recipe with coriander, Mentha piperta, Oxalis corniculata and Rumex hastata leaves and serve.



Fresh flower ,1/2 kg; besan (black gram flour) or corn flour,1/2 kg ; 1 cup fresh coriander leaves (chopped), 3-5 green chilies, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 medium sized chopped onions, 2-3 medium sized finely chopped potato and salt according to taste.


Make a paste of flowers, chopped potatoes, basen and spices listed above. Mix well and add some tender chopped leaves of mulberry (Morus alba). Make small ball of this paste and in hot mustard oil give these balls a deep fry. Repeat this process till whole paste is over. Pakoras are now ready to serve. Serve these hot with chutney or tomato-ketchup.

Safed- Banadark pakora curry:

 Safed- Banadark pakoras; 250 g mustard oil 3-4 table spoons; coriander powder, 1 table spoon; fenugreek seed powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seeds, 1 tea spoon; turmeric powder, 1 table spoon; red chilies, 2-3; chopped onion, 1; chopped garlic, 4-6 cloves; ginger paste, ½ table spoon; tomato puree, 3 or 5 cups curd.  


Sautécurd in hot mustard oil along with spices listed above in same sequence. Add to it safed- banadark pakoras and cook for 8-10 minutes. Now add to it garam masala and garnish with mint or coriander leaves. Safed- Banadark pakora curry is now ready to serve. Serve with rice or chapatti.


Safed- Banadark rhizomes are pickled to ensure their availability round the year.


Safed- Banadark rhizomes, 200g; lemon juice, 200 g; salt, 1 tea spoon, black salt, 1 tea spoon; black pepper,1/4 tea spoon; turmeric powder,1/2 tea spoon.  asafoetida (hing), pinch off.


Peel off rhizome and dice into very thin slices. Keep in full sunlight for 1 hour. Now in a mixing bowl mix slices well with spices listed above and lemon juice for making pickle. Store pickle in a ceramic jar and place in full sunlight for 3-5 days. Pickle will be ready to eat after 3-5 days. If you want to preserve it for longer time than add some more lemon juice and make sure that slices remain plunged with lemon juice.

Safed- Banadark rhizome pickle

Seek professional advice before treating this plant medicinally.

Medicinal Uses:

Safed- Banadark possesses tremendous medicinal properties with anti-cancerous, antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, antihypertensive etc also characterized by the presence of volatile oils and oleoresins of export value 1. Its seeds are aromatic, carminative and stomachic 2. Rhizome is antirheumatic, excitant and used as tonic 2,3. The ground rhizome is also used as a febrifuge (Cure fever) 3,4. Essential oil from rhizomes is used in the treatment of body aches, cold, contusion, diabetes, headache, inflammation, lancinating pain, osteoclastogenesis and rheumatic pain 5.

A decoction of rhizome is used to treat pain in the chest and arms 6. An essential oil from the roots is carminative and has anthelmintic indications 3A decoction from the basal part of the safed- banadark  stem is gargled in the treatment of tonsillitis, or, alternatively, a part of the stem may be chewed4. The chewed stem is applied to infected nostrils 4. An infusion of the safed- banadark  leaves is used to treat abdominal complaints6. The boiled leaves are applied to stiff and sore joints 4. Flower essential oil has significant anti-inflammatory activity and is valued in high grade perfumes 7.

Other Uses:

Safed- Banadark is frequently cultivated as an ornamental plant for its beautiful, butterfly shaped, aromatic white flowers. Dried leaves are used to make traditional foot mat in villages of Western Himalaya, but this practice is on sharp decline and these foot mats are replaced by modern machine-made foot mats. Clipped rhizome pieces of  thisplantare mixed with green fodder and fed to milch cattle to enhance lactation. The stems contain 43 – 48% cellulose and are useful in making paper 2. The plant has been recommended as a source of paper pulp 8. An essential oil obtained from the flowers of this species, and other members of the genus, is valued in high grade perfumes3. An extract of the flowers is used as an ingredient in commercial cosmetic preparations as a skin conditioner9. An extract of the root is used as an ingredient in commercial cosmetic preparations as a skin conditioner, tonic and masking agent 9. The dried then powdered plant is used as an ingredient in commercial cosmetic preparations as a skin conditioner 9. The root contains 1.7% essential oil, which is used medicinally 3. The flowers are extensively used in flower garlands in Hawaii and Japan 4.


  1. Endringera DC, Taveira FSN, Kondratyuk TP, Pezzuto JM and Braga FC (2014): Cancer chemoprevention activity of labdane diterpenes from rhizomes of Hedychium coronarium. Rev. Bras. Farmacogn., 24(4);4. 08-412.
  2. Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. (1985); Medicinal Plants of China reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4
  3. Chopra, R. N., Nayar, S. L., & Chopra, I. C. (1956). Glossary of Indian medicinal plants (Vol. 1, pp. 138-139). New Delhi: Council of Scientific & Industrial Research.
  5. Morikawa T, Matsuda H, Sakamoto Y, Ueda K and Yoshikawa M, (2002): New franesane type sesquiterpenes, hedychiols a and b 8, 9-diacetate and inhibitors of degranulation in rbl-2h3 cells from the rhizome of Hedychium coronarium. Chem. Pharm. Bull., 50(8):1045–1049.
  7. Matsumoto F, Idetsuki H, Harada K, Nohara I and Toyoda T, (1993): Volatile components of Hedychium coronarium Koenig flowers. J. Essent. Oil Res., 5(2):123-133
  8. Uphof. J. C. Th (1959); Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim, publication

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