Zedoary is a rhizome that grows in tropical and subtropical wet forest regions. The fragrant plant bears yellow flowers with red and green bracts and the underground stem section is large and tuberous with numerous branches. The leaf shoots of the zedoary are long and can reach 1 meter (3 feet) in height.
The edible root of zedoary has a white interior and a fragrance reminiscent of mango; however, its flavour is more similar to ginger, except with a very bitter aftertaste. In Indonesia, it is ground to a powder and added to curry pastes, whereas in India, it tends to be used fresh or in pickling.