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A Brief Introduction to Ginger’s Family

hibiscusBy Donna Porter

Ginger.  The word, in and of itself, has an essence of beauty and intrigue.  It can stir your senses with images of the exotic, or bring feelings of delight to one’s lips by its soft pronunciation of syllables or to ones taste buds by its savory, tangy flavor.   But, here in the tropics, Ginger brings pleasure to the eyes as well.  It is the name commonly bestowed upon hundreds of plants that belong to the family Zingiberaceae, which include approximately 52 genera and 1,300 species.

Zingiber officinale is the culinary and medicinal ginger whose aromatic, rhizomatous root is world renown. It has been in cultivation in India and China for millennia, and therefore its exact origins are unclear.  Unlike many of its Zingiberaceae relatives, its claim to fame is its swollen, antler-looking roots, and not a colorful, showy flower or handsome foliage.

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