Talking about edibility parts, root, and other underground plant organs, actually it becomes important food for Indonesian peoples. A lot of edible roots we can found in every place in Indonesia.

Botanically, the underground part of plants distinguishes as root and non-root. True root called taproots (main root usually larger than branch root), fibrous (all root has the same size), and adventitious root (form from any part of plants than root). And non-root itself is an underground part of plants, such as bulbs, corms, rhizomes, and tubers.

Root Functions

Root and non-root organs were placed underground generally has a function as anchorage of the plants, adsorb the water and dissolve minerals which finally become nutrition, and the last function is also as storage organs.

List of Edible Root and Other Under ground Plant Parts In Indonesia

What kind of edible roots and underground organs from many plant species you can find in Indonesia?. Here is the list:

Alang-alang/Cogon grass/Imperata silyndrica

Imperata cylidrica

Also known as Kunai grass. Its plants are perennial and have very strong allelopathy chemical in the rhizomes, and also has very small and light seeds. It makes alang-alang become one of the invasive plants in Indonesia. The rhizome is widely known as good medicine against cough.

Bangle/Zingiber purpureum


Bangle was Grew in the backyard as traditional medicine. The rhizome contains some essential oils and starch. Its plants have proven to be effective in some diseases, such as fever, hepatitis, and rheumatic.

Bawang kucai/Garlic Chives/Allium tuberosum

bawang kucai

Native species of eastern Asia and now popular vegetables also in the origin area. All parts are edible, including the bulb. Usually mixed with other vegetables in the soup or other recipe

Bawang Merah/Shallot/Allium cepa


Originally came from center to southwest or Asia, but nowadays Shallot has spread to all places in the world. All of the parts are edible. The bulb is a term for the undergrown part and uses as food. One antioxidant called quercetin, potentially becomes an anti-cancer.

Bawang putih/Onion/Allium sativum

edible roots

Onion has the same origin with shallot and today become important crops for us. Indonesia has not a big production area for Onion compared to the shallot. But for sure, peoples used it every day in their food.

Bengkuang/Jicama/Pachyrhizus erosus


The tuberous root of Jicama is sweet, watery, and fresh. As food Jicama became a part of fruit salad. By mixing with other fruits such as pineapple, water guava, papaya.

Gadung/Indian three leaves Yam/Dioscorea hispida

legion botanica

In fact, gadung tuber is contained dioscorin and cyanide. The poisonous chemicals which affecting serious problem when we can not prepare the tuber properly. But actually, when prepared right, We can eat gadung tuber after steamed or boiled. Or we can find also gadung chips in the traditional market very easily.

Ganyong/Canna/Canna discolor


Ganyong contains high starch, which it makes suitable as an alternative to rice. The tuber was also rich in protein, calories, vitamin C, vitamin B1, phosphor, calcium, and iron.

Garut/Arrowroot/Maranta arundinacea


Become one of the popular traditional snacks in the ’70s, in fact, Garut rhizome has a high content of starch. The starch was usually a raw material for food thickening agents, sauces, soup, and pastry industries. Garut rhizome also contains an antibiotics compound.

Gembili/Lesser Yam/Dioscorea esculenta


Because Gembili has a high content of carbohydrates, it actually Gembili has the potential to become an alternative to rice. Even the tuber is edible, delicious, and good texture, but nowadays Gembili is one of the underutilized crops.

Jahe/Ginger/Zingiber officinale

Jahe Ginger

Widely Jahe is famous as a medicinal plant, also as a healthy drink. Jahe’s origin was from Indonesia, so traditionally peoples have used it for their daily uses. The rhizome can be used in raw or cooked first

Kecombrang/Etlingera elatior

Honje Kecombrang

Become one favorite survival plant, honje is so famous in Indonesia. It plants have many names in Indonesia, such as bungong kala (Aceh), Kincung (Medan), Honje (west java), Lucu (Banyuwangi). Grew in a moist area in the rain forest. Even the rhizomes are edible but most peoples use the flowers as food seasoning, sambal, and syrup.

Kencur/Aromatic Ginger/Kaempferia galanga


The appearance is small and stemless, but Kencur becomes one of the popular traditional medicine in Indonesia. When the rhizome mixed with rice, brown sugar, and tamarind. It becomes beras kencur, then you will taste the healthy drink of Indonesia.

Kecundang/Polynesian Arrowroot/Tacca Leontopetaloides


The edibility of Kecundang is not popular yet, but its species easily found in the coastal areas. Approximately Kecundang has 44% of carbohydrate and potentially become an alternative food crop.

Kentang/Potato/Solanum tuberosum


Potato is one of the most important food crops in Indonesia, an easily found in highland areas. Only 2 types of potato are common in Indonesia. First is Granola, which uses as daily food recipe use. Second is Atlantic, which use in the processing food industry to become potato chips

Kentang hitam/Chinese Potato/Plectranthus rotundifolius

kentang hitam

During the ’70s, Chinese potato is easily found in traditional food seller baskets. Probably because of only grown in some areas. By the time, the popularity of Chinese potato looks decreases because of many new processed food from potato and cassava.

Kimpul/Arrow Leaf Elephant Ear/Xanthosoma sagittifolium


Originally came from South America, people also named Talas Belitung. Besides used as a carbohydrate source, Kimpul also contains phytosterol called diosgenin. It chemical is known to have anticancer activity by reducing cancer cell proliferation.

Kunyit/Turmeric/Curcuma longa


Turmeric has curcumin which becomes the most important chemical because of the benefits. Curcumin has been using as a natural coloring agent. It compound also has the ability to increase immunity. Other use of curcumin as antioxidants are for anti-inflammation agents, anti-aging, and natural antibiotics.

Kunyit warna tua/East Indian Arrowroot/Curcuma angustifolia

edible roots Indonesia

The rhizomes as the edible part are using as an alternative to West Indian arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea). People also extract the starch from the tuber. Kunyit becomes one of the important edible roots in Indonesia

Kunci pepet/Kaempferia rotunda

edible root

Kunci pepet has strong flavor and peoples using as e medicine. Edible rhizomes also have been using for disease treatment. It caused by antimicrobial and anti-inflammation.

Lengkuas/Greater Galangal/Alpinia galanga

legion botanica

Lengkuas’s rhizomes usage is for food seasoning in daily use. Some researchers reported that Lengkuas also has chemical activities as an aphrodisiac, rheumatic, and bronchitis.

Lempuyang/Bitter Ginger/Zingiber zerumbet

legion botanica

Almost all part is edible; young leaves and flower were used as vegetables. Young rhizome was eaten raw or cooked, but the old rhizome usually eats as lalab. As a medicinal plant, lempuyang was used to improve the digestion system.

Lobak/Radish/Raphanus sativus

edible roots

Member of Brassicaceae family which by selection during the breeding process, people prefer the underground part to consume as edible roots in Indonesia

Pacing/Crepe Ginger/Cheilocostus speciosus

Pacing botanica

Most uses of the rhizomes from Pacing is for medicinal purposes. In fact, the rhizome is acting as a diuretic and anti-toxic. we can eat the rhizome by boiled or steamed first. The leaves also effective to neutralize the pain-causing by Pulus (Laportea stimulans)

Porang/Devill’s Tongue/Amorphophallus muelleri

Porang edible root

In the last decade, Porang becomes popular. Many peoples grew Porang because increasing of the demand. Porang has a high content of glucomannan which become the raw material for natural food emulsifier. Because of many publications about Porang in the last 5 years, today many peoples know Porang as one of the edible roots in Indonesia

Purun Tikus/water chesnut/ Eleocharis dulcis

Purun Tikus edible root

Purun is a member of Cyperaceae family and grew wild in the water. Even though edible, actually Purun is not popular in Indonesia. Its plant was become a weed in the rice field. But the underground part, called corm is edible and can eat it raw or cooked.

Sea Club-Rush/Bolboschoenus maritimus


The edible rhizome has a compound which uses for medicinal purposes. We can eat it raw or by boiling the rhizome.

Sente/Giant Taro/Alocasia macrorhiza

edible roots indonesia

As the name, giant taro is larger than other Taro. The high can reach 4 meters and easily found in the lowland. Almost all parts of the plant contain calcium oxalate crystals. Its compounds are toxic for humans. But the chemicals can be broken by cooking.

Singkong/Cassava/Manihot esculenta

cassava edible root

Cassava is becoming one of the main food crops in Indonesia. My favorite is tiwul. How to make tiwul from cassava, you can see here. Besides widely grown traditionally in the backyard as self-sufficient tradition. As important edible roots in Indonesia, Cassava is also grown commercially to fulfill the need for raw materials as cassava chips, tapioca, bioethanol.

Sosohan/Five leaves Yam/Dioscorea pentaphylla

Sosohan edible root

From some scientific reports, besides edible as a food, Sosohan tuber also potentially used as medicine because of some anti-bacterial and anti-fungal compounds. Naturally grown in the wild and rarely used as a cultivated crop.

Suweg/Elephant Food Yam/Amorphophallus paeoniifolius

Suweg edible root indonesia

Suweg widely grew in tropical areas from Africa to Asia. Its species has a high content of natural fiber and carbohydrates. that why the plant is the potential to become an alternative food crop.

Talas/Taro/Colocasia esculenta


Talas tuber has known as delicious food. Served in fried, boiled, or steamed. Widely grown in Indonesia, from lowland to midland. When you visiting Bogor-West Java, you can easily find some cakes which use talas tuber as raw material.

Teki/Nut Grass/Cyperus sp.

muryanto paiman

Cyperus sp. is a member of Cyperaceae family. Nut Grass in Indonesia is weed and grew wild. With 4-10 leaves, 10-100 cm in height, and the bulb is reddish brown, nutgrass is easily spread everywhere. We can find some Nutgrass species in Indonesia, Such as Cyperus rotundus, Cyperus difformis, and Cyperus iria.

Temu blenyek/Curcuma purpurescens

Peoples use the young rhizome for raw consumption, and the older rhizomes used for the starch after extraction.

Temu blobo/Curcuma aurantiaca

Temu blobo is Indonesian native species. The rhizome from its species mostly uses as traditional medicine. Peoples knew as ornamental plants because of the attractive flower form and color.

Temu giring/Curcuma heyneana

Temu giring edible root

Temu giring is more popular as traditional medicine than as food seasoning like other Curcuma species. The rhizomes are edible and commonly used as a skin treatment and have antioxidant compound.

Temu hitam/Curcuma aeruginosa

Temu ireng edible roots

Indonesia is the origin of Temu hitam. The tuber is edible and known as a medicine for colic, menstrual disorders, asthma and cough, obesity, and rheumatism

Temu Kunci/Boesenbergia pandurata

muryanto paiman

Temu kunci became the secret of beauty for Sundanese girls. Sundanese peoples eat the rhizome as “lalab” (fresh plants part which usually completed with sambal and eats together with the main menu).

Temu lawak/Javanese Ginger/Curcuma zanthorrhiza

temu lawak muryanto

Extracted starch from the rhizomes part was used as a condiment in the porridge or pudding. Usually grown in the backyard on the small scale and known as important material for another healthy drink. Temu lawak juice is common as recipe fever and constipation.

Temu poh/Curcuma manga

edible root Indonesia

Young shoots and flowers from its species are also edible. The rhizomes can be eaten raw or cooked first (boiled or steamed). The flavor is similar to a carrot.

Temu putih/Zedoary/Curcuma zedoaria

edible root

Zedoaria originally from southern Asia and widely known as an ornamental plant. Edible rhizome was eaten raw or cooked. The starch content is high and can be used as an alternative food.

Temu putri/Queen Lily Ginger/Curcuma petiolata


Peoples knew Temu Putri as an ornamental plant because of the nice sharp and attractive color from the flower. But actually, the rhizomes are edible and uses as traditional medicine.

Turnip/Brassica rapa subsp rapa

edible roots

Mostly peoples use turnips as par of sup. Originally from middle and eastern Asia, turnip the grown in the Indonesian highland area. Less common than Carrot, but young turnips root can eaten raw or cooked first.

Ubi jalar/Sweet Potato/Ipomea batatas

edible roots

Known also as a carbohydrate source, sweet potato usually used as an alternative to main food besides rice. The taste is sweet, and we can it raw, boiled, steamed, or fried. Peoples grew in the dry season when water is limited for rice.

Uwi/Purple Yam/Dioscorea alata

akar yang bisa dimakan

Dioscorea alata tuber has a purple color and sometimes peoples confused with the purple sweet potato. But actually, the taste and texture are different. Uwi has a high content of anthocyanins. The starch has potentially become an alternative to a food crop.

Walur/Amorphophallus paenifolius

edible roots

In the first decade of Indonesian independence, Walur was widely used by peoples on the island of Java as a source of carbohydrates. Walur tuber needs special treatment before ready to cook. It is to clear up the poisonous chemical compound in the tuber

Wortel/Carrot/Daucus carota

akar yang bisa dimakan

Carrot is an introduction vegetable crop, and today become one of the important vegetables in Indonesia. Peoples grow carrots usually in highland. Some varieties are available in the market.


Hopefully, the article about edible roots and other underground plant parts in Indonesia is useful. Any corrections are welcome and please give any input if you have additional data to complete the list.

Muryanto Paiman

always love to learn from nature.  Passionate on studying plants in some aspects: the DNA, Identification, propagation, and their uses


Food foraging in Indonesia - Learn From Indonesian Nature · September 24, 2020 at 4:34 pm

[…] names.  Some dangerous plant are exist in Indonesia, such as Pulus (Laportea stimulans) and Gadung (Dioscorea hispida).  Actually, these two plants is edible with proper […]

Edible plants in Indonesia - · January 26, 2021 at 3:41 pm

[…] Root/underground part:  Amaryllidaceae (shallots, garlic, onions, leeks), Umbelliferae (Wortel) […]

what is the most poisonous plant in the world you can find in Indonesia · February 8, 2021 at 10:41 pm

[…] There were many cases of gadung tuber poisoning have occurred in Indonesia. Actually, with proper processing, gadung is one of the alternative food as carbohydrates source. […]

Indonesian local and marginal vegetables, 13 most common vegetables · February 14, 2021 at 10:01 pm

[…] fact, cassava has survived until now. One of the plants in which all parts are useful. The tubers are one of the most delicious foods in Indonesia. Industrial cassava is for raw material for […]

Marasi the miracle fruit of Indonesia, turning sour taste into sweet · August 1, 2021 at 7:00 am

[…] certain conditions, Marasi leaves are also useful as an emergency soap. The tuber is edible in fresh or cooked as vegetables.   The fruit is unique.  Marasi fruit contains curculin which […]

Natural First Aid For The Nettle Sting you can find in the wild · August 8, 2021 at 8:56 am

[…] have long used the rhizome of pacing as a contraception, anthelmintic, stomachache, liver disorders, hepatitis, gallbladder […]

Backyard utilization of Javanese people · January 3, 2022 at 8:26 pm

[…] rice as food (paceklik).  To prevent the food limitation during Paceklik, the also grow some food crops as alternatives such as singkong (Manihot esculenta), ubi jalar (Ipomea batatas), and Talas […]

Comments are closed.