Today on our herbaria study, we will be looking at the rhizome plant Ginger.

When I was a child, back then in my home town, the different rivers where we used to fetch water were surrounded by two particular plants whose roots look very much alike. We never knew what these plants were. We were only using them as cosmetics to paint the nails and sometimes the lip. But as time passes by, I began to see these roots shaded in markets of different cities I have been to. They look familiar and so one day, I was curious to ask one of the sellers the price for the roots, and the response she gave was what revealed their names and she said and I quote “you mean ginger and turmeric”? Since that day, the names stuck to my brains. Just some months ago on a one year national assignment, the place I was posted to happened to be a rural area. There, the stream that serves as source of water is also surrounded by these rhizomes (ginger and turmeric). At this point, I concluded that both plants have something in common as related to thriving well in river banks. Experience they said is the best teacher.

That not withstanding, I want us to look at the plant ginger. I will be sharing both my knowledge on the plant and research from reliable sources. So don’t be in a haste, we have so much to give about ginger. See below.

Origin of Ginger

The history of Ginger goes back over 5000 years when the Indians and ancient Chinese considered it a tonic root for all ailments. While Ginger originated in Southeast Asia, it has a long history of being cultivated in other countries. At an early date it was exported to Ancient Rome from India. It was used extensively by the Romans, but almost disappeared from the pantry when the Roman Empire fell. After the end of the Roman Empire, the Arabs took control of the spice trade from the east. Ginger became quite costly like many other spices. In medieval times it was commonly imported in a preserved form and used to make sweets.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a warming spice and comes from the same family as cardamom and turmeric. It has been used in Asian food for centuries. It also became a popular spice in the Caribbean where it could be easily grown. In the 15th century, Ginger plants were carried on ships which is probably how they were introduced to the Caribbean as well as Africa. Today ginger is grown throughout the tropics.

It is only in recent years that ginger has become more valued as a spice than for it’s medicinal properties. Even so, in western countries it has been used to add taste to buttermilk drinks as far back as the 11th Century AD. Widespread use in foods did not occur until roughly 200 years later when ginger was used in cooking meats and in ginger pastes. It is said the Queen Elizabeth I of England invented the gingerbread man, which became a popular Christmas treat.

Ginger has been a trading commodity longer than most spices. But it came into its own during the 13th and 14th centuries. When the Arabs traveled to Africa and Zanzibar, they planted the rhizomes thus spreading the cultivation of this great herb. Today, Ginger can be found in any grocery store and purchased for a few dollars, but back in the 14th century a pound of Ginger held a value equal to that of a whole live sheep!

Scientific classification of Ginger




order…………………… Zingiberales


species……………….. Zingiber officinale


Ginger, Zingiber officinale, is an erect, herbaceous perennial plant in the family Zingiberaceae grown for its edible rhizome (underground stem) which is widely used as a spice.

The rhizome is brown, with a corky outer layer and pale-yellow scented center. The above ground shoot is erect and reed-like with linear leaves that are arranged alternately on the stem. The shoots originate from a multiple bases and wrap around one another. The leaves can reach 7 cm (2.75 in) in length and 1.9 cm (0.7 in) broad. Flowering heads are borne on shorter stems and the plant produces cone shaped, pale yellow flowers . The ginger plant can reach 0.6–1.2 m in height (2–4 ft) and is grown as an annual plant. Ginger may also be referred to as true ginger, stem ginger, garden ginger or root ginger and it is believed to have originated in the Southeast Asia.


Basic requirements As a tropical plant, ginger grows best in warm and sunny climates in a deep but well draining soil loam that is high in organic matter. The optimum soil pH for growth of ginger is between 6.0 and 6.5 and the plant requires a minimum temperature of 15.5°C (59.9°F). Ginger plants require an average annual rainfall of between 250 and 300 cm for optimal growth and development and require additional irrigation where rainfall is not adequate. Ginger plants will not tolerate waterlogged soils.

Ginger root

Propagation Ginger is vegetatively propagated from small sections of the rhizome, called sets. Sets are produced by cutting a small 3–6 cm from a living rhizome. Each piece should possess at least one living bud which will produce shoots. The ginger sets can be pre-sprouted in pots or nursery seed beds by covering with a layer of soil or they can be planted directly at the final planting location. The bed should be prepared for planting by digging to soil to a fine tilth and removing any weeds that are present. The addition of lime to the soil adjusts the pH while helping to provide the calcium required by the plants during their growth. Lime should be added to the soil in appropriate amounts in the Fall prior to planting. The sets should then be planted in early Spring at a depth of 5–12 cm, leaving 15–35 cm between plants and 25–30 cm between rows. For optimal growth, the soil temperature at planting should not fall below 25°C (77°F). General care and maintenance Ginger has a tendency to grow horizontally and the soil can be hilled around the growing stems to force a more vertical growth habit. Soil should be hilled 3 to 5 times during the growing season. Any exposed rhizomes should be covered with soil and weeds should be removed from the bed. Ginger will benefit from the addition of a complete fertilizer as well as phosphorous, calcium and organic matter prior to planting. During the growing season, additional fertilizer can be applied as a side dressing. The side dressing should be made 25 to 30 cm (10-12 in) from the row of plants due to ginger being easily damaged by fertilizer applications. Side dressings should be made every 2 to 3 weeks during the growing season to ensure the ginger is suppied with adequate nutrients. Harvesting Ginger is usually harvested after the leaves senesce, dry out and the stem falls over. Ginger roots are harvested by digging. Commercially produced ginger is harvested with the use of cutter bar which is pulled by a tractor. After harvest, the ginger should be cured for 3 to 5 days to prevent the development of mildew on the rhizomes.

Culinary Uses of Ginger

As a spice for culinary purposes, ginger root may be used fresh (grated, ground, or slivered) or dried and ground (Herbst 2001). Fresh ginger comes in the two forms either as young ginger or mature ginger (Herbst 2001).

  • Young ginger rhizomes, also called spring ginger, are juicy and fleshy with a very mild taste, and have a thin skin that does not have to be peeled. They are often pickled in vinegar or sherry as a snack or just cooked as an ingredient in many dishes. They can also be stewed in boiling water to make ginger tea, to which honey is often added as a sweetener; sliced orange or lemon fruit may also be added.

    Mature ginger roots are fibrous and nearly dry, with a tough skin that must be carefully removed to preserve the delicate flesh just under the skin (Herbst 2001). If the skin is wrinkled, that usually indicates that the root is dry and past its prime; smooth skin is an indicator of a more desirable state (Herbst 2001). The juice from old ginger roots is extremely potent and is of spice in Chinese cuisine to flavor dishes such as seafood or mutton.

  • Powdered dry ginger root (ginger powder) is typically used to add spiciness to gingerbread and other recipes. Ground and fresh ginger taste quite different and ground ginger is a poor substitute for fresh ginger. Fresh ginger can be successfully substituted for ground ginger and should be done at a ratio of 6 parts fresh for 1 part ground. Fresh, unpeeled ginger can be refrigerated up to three weeks if tightly wrapped and up to six months if frozen (Herbst 2001).

  • Ginger is also made into candy and used as a flavoring for cookies, crackers, and cake, and is the main flavor in ginger ale—a sweet, carbonated, non-alcoholic beverage, as well as the similar, but somewhat spicier beverage ginger beer. Candied or crystallized ginger is prepared by cooking it in a sugar syrup and coating with sugar.

Regional culinary uses

The uses of ginger varies among countries. Let’s see how some regions put their ginger into use.

  • In Western cuisine, ginger is traditionally restricted to sweet foods, such as ginger ale, gingerbread, ginger snaps, ginger cake, and ginger biscuits. A ginger-flavored liqueur called Canton is produced in Jarnac, France. Green ginger wine is a ginger flavored wine produced in the Umitef Kingdom, traditionally sold in a green glass bottle. Ginger is also used as a spice added to hot coffee and tea.

  • In Arabic, ginger is called Zanjabil and in some parts of the Middle East ginger powder is used as a spice for coffee.

  • In India, ginger is called “Aadu” in Gujarati, “Shunti” in Kannada language[Karnataka], Allam in Telugu, Inji in Tamil and Malayalam, Alay in Marathi, and Adrak in Hindi and Urdu. Fresh ginger is one of the main spices used for making pulse and lentil curries and other vegetable preparations. It is used fresh to spice tea, especially in winter. Also, ginger powder is used in certain food preparations that are made particularly for expecting women and feeding mothers, the most popular one being Katlu which is a mixture of gum resin, ghee, nuts, and sugar.

  • In south India, ginger is used in the production of a candy called Inji-murappa (“ginger candy” from Tamil). This candy is mostly sold by vendors to bus passengers in bus stops and in small tea shops as a locally produced item. Candied ginger is also very famous around these parts. Additionally, in Tamil Nadu, especially in the Tanjore belt, a variety of ginger that is less spicy is used when tender to make fresh pickle with the combination of lemon juice or vinegar, salt, and tender green chillies. This kind of pickle was generally made before the invention of refrigeration and stored for a maximum of four to five days. The pickle gains a mature flavor when the juices cook the ginger over the first 24 hours. Ginger is also added as a flavoring in tea.

  • In Japan, ginger is pickled to make beni shoga and gari or grated and used raw on tofu or noodles. It is also made into a candy called shoga no sato zuke.

  • In Burma, ginger is used in a salad dish called gyin-tho, which consists of shredded ginger preserved in oil, and a variety of nuts and seeds.

  • Indonesia has a famous beverage that called Wedang Jahe, which is made from ginger and palm sugar; Indonesians also use ground ginger root, called jahe ordjahe, as a frequent ingredient in local recipes.

  • In traditional Korean kimchi, ginger is finely minced and added to the ingredients of the spicy paste just before the fermenting process.

  • In the Ivery Coast, ginger is ground and mixed with orange, pineapple, and lemonto produce a juice called Nyamanku.

  • In China, sliced or whole ginger root is often paired with savory dishes, such as fish. However, candied ginger is sometimes a component of Chinese candy boxes, and an herbal tea can also be prepared from ginger.
    In Nigeria, ginger is mainly used as spice. Though Some persons do mix it with lemon, tumeric and take the infusion as tea. I am not an exception to this ginger tea.
    Note: If your country is not mentioned here, it is because as at when this article was published, the writer was not able to cover the use of ginger in all the countries. You can contribute to this article by telling us what ginger is used for in your country through the comment box.

    Health Benefits of Consuming Ginger

    According to health experts, ginger can also serve some important health benefits when used moderately.

    1. It can reduce your risk of diabetes.

    Scientists have linked some active compounds in ginger with improvements in insulin and metabolism. That said, if you’re at risk for diabetes, adding extra to sugary gingerbread cookies won’t do you any favors! Keep both dried and fresh ginger on-hand for flavouring smoothies and eggie-based stir-frys and soups. While some chemical compounds in ginger may decrease over time, the drying process enhances other beneficial ones.

    2. It’s a natural way to relieve period pain.

    Out of all of the research done on ginger’s pain-relieving properties, results show it helps with menstrual pain the most. Sipping ginger tea can also soothe nausea during that time of the month. However, if you usually take acetaminophen or ibuprofen, it may not work as well. Check with your doc before trying any supplement in extract or pill form, since it may interact with other medications you’re taking.

    3. It’s an anti-inflammatory.

    Like other produce, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains, ginger contains antioxidant-like compounds called phytonutrients that may reduce cell damage. The root can also prevent inflammation from starting by reducing cell-signaling activity. With that in mind, adding ginger to already good-for-you, nutrient-dense meals is the key to inlocking those properties.

    4. It can settle an upset stomach.

    The idea that ginger can help with some light roubmle isn’t new. In fact, research has linked multiple digestive benefits to ginger, specifically acting on parts of your GI tract responsible for feelings of nausea, stomach upset, and vomiting. It may also help move food from the stomach to the small intestine for digestion and absorption. That said, ginger cannot prevent food poisoning or counteract ingestion of a harmful substance, so contact your physician ASAP if something requires urgent medical attention.

    5. It can also curb morning sickness.

    And speaking of an upset stomach, pregnant women in particular should take note: Ginger may help reduce symptoms of morning sickness only when used with caution! In fact, research supports the safety and efficacy of intake of little quantity of ginger during pregnancy, with some improvement in symptoms when compared to a placebo.

    6. It may help prevent heart disease.

    The same anti-inflammatory compounds in ginger can also reduce the risk of chronic disease. A 2016 review even linked regular ginger intake with lower cholesterol and blood sugar compared to a placebo. But just like diabetes, eating ginger can’t offset an otherwise poor diet high in saturated fat and added sugar. You’ll still have to consume more veggies, 100% whole grains, lean proteins, fish, legumes, and beans in order to reduce your risk.

    7. It may lower your risk of cancer.

    The cell-protecting properties of ginger can lower the long-term risk of certain cancers. That’s because the spice and other flavouring may reduce cellular activity that causes DNA changes, cell death, and proliferation of cancer cells. It could also help sensitize tumors to treatments like chemo and radiation. While ginger’s not a cure-all for any chronic disease, using it regularly with loads of other spices and plant-based foods can help benefit health overall.

    8. It can help you lose weight.

    Some small studies have linked ginger intake — when combined with other plant extracts — to some benefits in weight loss. And there’s definitely some promising animal research linking ginger to weight management. But as with anything else, ginger is no magic weight-loss pill ! Other components of a healthy, balanced diet matter just as much when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off.


    Ginger is on the United States Food and Drug Administration’s “generally recognized as safe” list. Although ginger is generally recognized as safe by the FDA, it is not approved for the treatment or cure of any disease and is sold as an unregulated dietary supplement. Ginger does interact with some medications, including warfarin, which is a blood thinner (Crawford and Odle 2005). Ginger also can interfere with the absorption of tetracycline, digoxin, phenothiazines, and sulfa drugs (Crawford and Odle 2005). Ginger is contraindicated in people suffering from gallstones as the herb promotes the release of bile from the gallbladder (Al-Achi; Mayo 2006).

    Some studies indicate that ginger taken in high amounts might cause miscarriages, and thus are not recommended for pregnant woman, and dosages over 6 grams can cause gastric problems and possibly ulcers (Crawford and Odle 2005).

    Allergic reactions to ginger generally result in a rash and though generally recognized as safe, ginger can cause heartburn, bloating, gas, belching, and nausea, particularly if taken in powdered form. Unchewed fresh ginger may result in intestinal blockage, and individuals who have had ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease or blocked intestines may react badly to large quantities of fresh ginger (Mayo 2006). There are also suggestions that ginger may affect blood pressure, clotting, and heart rhythms (Mayo 2005).

Diseases of Ginger And Management

According to researchers, ginger like every other plants are not void of disease and pests. So should you notice any of the following disease relayed symptoms in your ginger garden, the suggested management measures will help you combat it.

bacterial wilt or prem rog : ralstonia solanacearum
symptoms : it is the most serious disease and the symptoms can be noticed form july-august. the leaf margins of the affected plant turn bronze and curl backward. the whole plants wilt and die. the base of the infected pseudostem and the rhizome emit foul smell. when the suspected pseudostem is cut and immersed in a glass of clean water, milky exudates will ooze out from the cut end. typical symptom is the wilting observed during afternoon in young seedlings.

Management : Seed contamination is the major source of infection. Hence, procure only healthy rhizome from disease free area. Treat the seed with Streptocyclin (20g/100 litre water). Remove the affected clumps and drench the soil with copper oxychloride 0.2%.

Soft rot or Paheli : Pythium aphanidrematum

Symptoms : It is a serious seed as well as soil borne disease and the symptoms can be seen from July. Yellowing of leaves appear first on the lower leaves and proceeds to upper leaves. Roots arising form the affected rhizome become rotten and show brown discoloration of the rhizome tissue. Sometimes the pseudostem comes off easily with a gentle pull. The rotten parts attract other fungi, bacteria and insects particularly the rhizome fly. During the rainy season, this disease spreads very fast from infected field to healthy field.

Management : Avoid water logging. At the time of sowing, treat the rhizome with Bordeaux mixture (1%) and again with Trichoderma @8-10-gm/litre water.

Remove the badly affected plants and drench around the infected plants, after slightly removing of soil with Bordeaux mixture (1%) or copper oxychloride @ 2g/1 liters of water.

Dry rot : Fusarium and Pratylenchus complex

Symptoms : It is a fungus-nematode complex disease. In contrast to rhizome rot, dry rot appears in field in small patches and spreads slowly. The affected plants appear stunted and exhibit varying degree of foliar yellowing. Older leaves dry up first followed by younger ones. In advanced stage the rhizome, when cut open, show a brownish ring and is mainly restricted to cortical region. The pseudo stem of the dry rot affected plants does not come off with a gentle pull in contrast to soft rot. The affected rhizomes are shrunken, dry and are not marketable.

Management : Soil application of mustard oil cake at the rate of 40 kg/ha before sowing in furrows can check the nematode problem. Hot water treatment (51OC for 10 min) followed by seed treatment with Bordeaux mixture (1%) effectively checks the problem.

Leaf spot / blight : Phyllostricta zingiberi

Symptoms : Small spindle to oval spots appear on younger leaves. The spots have white papery centers and dark brown margins surrounded by yellowish halos. The spot later increase in size and coalesce to form larger spots which eventually decrease the photosynthetic area. In the case of severe infection the entire leaves dry up.

Management : Spray Bordeaux mixture (1%) 3-4 times at 15 days interval with the initiation of the disease. Good control is achieved by growing the crop under partial shade.

Insect Pests of Ginger

White Grub or Khumlay : Holotrichia spp.

It is a sporadic pest, sometimes causes serious damage. The grub feeds on the roots and newly formed rhizomes. The infestation is generally more during August-September. The adult beetles, after emergence from pupae settle on the Ficus or other trees in congregation which can be collected and destroyed. The entomophagous fungus Metarrhizium anisophilae can be mixed with fine cow dung and then applied in the field to control the grubs. In endemic areas opt for soil application of neem cake @ 40 kg/ha before sowing.

Shoot borer :Conogethes punctiferalis

The larvae bore the tender pseudostem and reach the central portion by feeding on the internal tissues, thus resulting in yellowing and drying of shoots. Infestation may occur from June to October. Spray Nimbicidine (2-5ml/l) or Beauveria bassiana@ 2-5ml/l

Shoot boring weevil : Prodioctes haematicus

The grubs bore into the pseudostem and cause dead hearts. Remove alternate host plants such as wild turmeric and cardamom. The congregating adult beetles can be collected and destroyed. Spray Nimbicidine @ 2-5ml/l or Carbofuran 3G granules @ 30 kg/ha immediately after mother rhizome extraction. In the case of severe infestation, spray Endosulfan @ 0.07 %.

Integrated Pest and Disease Management for Ginger

  • Field hygiene is more important to manage the pests and diseases. Avoid water stagnation, provide adequate drainage, remove weeds periodically, apply only well rotted FYM compost at 25 t/ha and thoroughly incorporate it in the soil, apply dolomite at 2 t/ha before sowing to increase soil pH, sow ginger in raised beds of at least 25-30 cm height and provide mulching with leaves and twigs of chilaune (Schima wallichii) or Banmara (Eupatorium sp) or utis (Alnus nepalensis) or mustard oil cake at 5 to 10 t/ha and follow crop rotation of 2 to 4 years depending on the incidence and severity of the diseases. Soil application of Biocontrol agents like T. harzianum and P. fluorescence during planting time @ 2-5% gives effective control of the diseases.
  • Use good quality rhizome for sowing. Procure disease free seeds from disease free area.
  • Before sowing, treat the rhizome in hot water (51oC for 10 min) and again in solution of Bordeaux mixture 1% for 15 min. Add Streptocyclin (20g/ 100 l water) if bacterial wilt is also a problem. Dry the rhizome in shade and then sow. If cut rhizome are to be planted, they should be treated after cutting.
  • Treat rhizome with bio-inoculant Pseudomonas fluorescens and Trichoderma harzianum followed by soil application 60 days after planting to reduce rhizome rot.
  • Once the diseases is spotted in the field, remove the affected clumps and drench the soil with Bordeaux mixture 1% at 15 days interval.
  • Diseased plants should be identified while the crop is in field. Rhizomes from such plants should not be selected for the seed purpose
  • Mechanical collection and destruction of grubs, weevils, larvae and adult beetle periodically will reduce the incidence of insect pests. If white grub is predominant, apply Nimbicidine 2-5 ml/ l.
  • It has been observed that diseases spread fast after mother rhizome (mau) extraction. Hence, drench the soil with fungicide immediately after mau extraction and again this practice has to be followed keeping into consideration the cost – benefit ratio of mau extraction and disease incidence.

I hope this post answered your questions? However, it is advised that you carry out further findings if you find anything unclear. Stay connected to myschoollibrary for more educational contents.


  • Crawford, S., and T. G. Odle. 2005. Thyme. In J. L. Longe, ed., The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. Farmington Hills, Mich: Thomson/Gale. ISBN 0787693960.
  • Herbst, S. T. 2001. The New Food Lover’s Companion: Comprehensive Definitions of Nearly 6,000 Food, Drink, and Culinary Terms. Barron’s Cooking Guide. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series. ISBN 0764112589.
  • McGee, H. 2004. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, 2nd ed. New York: Scribner. ISBN 0684800012.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). 2006. Ginger. University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrived April 8, 2008.
  • R. Karuppiyan, H. Rahman, R.K. Avasthe, H.Kalita, Matber Singh, K.Ramesh, P.K. Panda, Ashok Kumar and Tasvina Rahman Borah, ICAR Research complex for NEH Region, Sikkim center, Tadong, Gangtok – 737 102