Galangal is a perennial plant of the Zingiberaceae family (the ginger family) that can grow up to five feet or 150 cm in height. It has a dark reddish-brown, cylindrical and fleshy rootstock (rhizome).
The flower stems are long, narrow with lanceolate leaves that surround the stem as a sheath. The orchid-like flowers are white with red veins. The fruits are red fleshy berries the size of a pea that usually contain three dark brown seeds with rather unpleasant taste.
Galangal is closely related to languas galanga (Alpinia galanga) and ginger (Zingiber officinale).