Kaempferia galanga is an herbaceous species with pale-green, fragrant rhizomes. It usually has two leaves (measuring up to 10cm across by 15cm long) that spread flat on the ground. Kaempferia galanga‘s inflorescence is sessile and ephemeral–lasting only a single day–with the flowers being white with purple spots on some of the petals.
The species has a long history of use, and it continues to be economically important in modern times. It has many common names, including sand ginger, aromatic ginger, and galangal (a name it shares with three other species). It is likely that you have smelled its aroma if you burn incense; the essential oil of sand ginger is commonly used in incense formulas that claim to promote awareness and increase energy. The tuberous rhizomes are used in ayurvedic medicine to treat toothaches, abdominal pains, rheumatism, and a host of other ailments. The shoots, leaves, and flowers also possess medicinal qualities. Modern research supports the notion that Kaempferia galanga is a species rich with compounds having pharmacological and insecticidal properties.
Sand ginger is native to India and widely cultivated throughout southeast Asia. The essential oil sells at a high price ($600-$700/kg is cited in the article linked below), making sand ginger a desirable crop for eastern Asian farmers. Propagation of Kaempferia galanga is usually done through division of the rhizomes, but this slow process cannot keep up with growing demand. Methods of micropropagation have been developed for this species that decrease the time needed for propagation: plantlets are grown using tissue-culture techniques for 90 days, then hardened-off in a greenhouse for 30 days before being transplanted to normal field conditions. For more details on how this is done, see this 2010 article by Mohanty et al.: Biochemical and molecular profiling of micropropagated and conventionally grown Kaempferia galanga.