A rather primitive monocot, which, along with two other species in the same genus, forms its own family, the Hanguanaceae, following new DNA evidence now placed in the order Commelinales. For a long time, it was unclear where exactly this plants closest relationships lay, as it shares many morphological features with the ginger order, Zingiberales. H. malayana is a plant of tropical wetlands from Sri Lanka over Malesia to the Caroline Islands, where it grows in swamps or in shallow water. It forms a small, upright rosette of stiff, broad leaves and flowers with a large panicle that stands well above the leaves. In cultivation it is best suited to the tropics and will thrive in any wet spot in the garden.