Torch ginger (E. elatior) is a perennial herbaceous clumping plant that belongs to the family Zingiberaceae. It can be propagated from seeds or rhizomes. A torch ginger plant consists of a leaf stalk (pseudostem) and an inflorescence borne on a separate leafless peduncle arising from the underground rhizome (Choon and Ding, 2016). The height of the leaf stalk is ≈3–4 m whereas the peduncle length is ≈0.7 m. The torch ginger inflorescence is composed of involucral and floral bracts. The inflorescence bracts may be red, pink, or white (Choon et al., 2016). At FB stage, an inflorescence may contain 3–4 layers of involucral bracts, 20–25 layers of floral bracts, and 90–120 true flowers (Choon and Ding, 2016).
Commonly, the inflorescence bud is used as an aromatic spice for culinary purposes in Southeast Asia. In fact, the showy inflorescence at each developmental stage can also be used as cut flower. It has been used as floral arrangements in Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Thailand, and the United States (Carneiro et al., 2014; Loges et al., 2011; Prasongchan et al., 2009). However, to date, the characteristics of the inflorescence during the growth and development remained to be elucidated.
Previous phenological observation revealed that torch ginger plant demonstrated a sympodial growth pattern. The leaves yellowing of individual leaf stalk and browning on involucral and floral bracts were noticed when the inflorescence entered blooming stage with true flower opened ring by ring (Choon and Ding, 2016). It is hypothesized that the growth and development of inflorescence head, and the opening of true flowers involve remobilization of stored carbohydrates from senescing plant part to the active growing part. Hence, the objective of this study was to determine the physical and physiological characteristics, and soluble sugar content of the torch ginger inflorescence at different developmental stages. By having better understanding on the developmental changes of the inflorescence, proper postharvest treatment could be proposed for cut flower usage.
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