Strausbaugh, Perry D. Department of Botany, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Core, Earl L. Department of Biology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Last reviewed:June 2021
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An important spice or condiment, and the plant (Zingiber officinale) from which it is obtained. The ginger plant, Zingiber officinale, is a member of the ginger family Zingiberaceae and is a native of southeastern Asia. The plant is an erect perennial herb having thick, scaly, branched rhizomes (see illustration), which are underground, often tuber-shaped stems. Although typically called ginger roots, the rhizomes contain starch, gums, an oleoresin (gingerin) responsible for the pungent taste, and an essential oil that imparts the aroma. The rhizomes, dug up after the aerial parts have withered, are treated in different ways to produce green ginger or dried ginger. Ginger is used in medicine, in culinary preparations (for example, soups, curries, puddings, pickles, gingerbread, and cookies), and for flavoring beverages (for example, ginger ale and ginger beer). The plant is grown widely in India, China, Nigeria, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand, and Jamaica. See also: Essential oil; Spice and flavoring; Zingiberales
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