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Ginger
Zingiberaceae
Zingiber officinalis


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Type Categories Useful Parts

Herb


Zingiberaceae Family

Zingiber Genus

Location

Originally grew in Southern or South Eastern Asia

Physical Description
This perennial plant looks and grows like Turmeric, loving the same warm and wet conditions. It has a thicker, more irregular rhizome, giving rise to a reed-like stem and alternate pale green leaves. A number of greenish-yellow bracts and flowers with a purple lip arise from the spike.

The ginger has a slender stem; ginger is a perennial plant, about 24 to 39 inches in height. Compared to the second and following stems, the first stems are lengthier and also bear beautiful and fragrant flowers. The ginger flowers are greenish yellow and streaked with purple down the sides. Dark green ginger leaves are characterized by a famous midrib that is sheathed at the growing base. The seeds of the ginger appear in the rare fruiting body.




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Zingiberaceae
Zingiberales
Zingiberales
Commelinidae
Monocots
Monocots
One First-Leaves (Monocots)
Mesangiospermae
Mesangiospermae
Half Capsule Seed Division
Magnoliophyta
Magnoliophyta
Magnolia Division
Spermatophytes
Spermatophytes
Seed Plants
Euphyllophytina
Real Land Plants
Polysporangiates
Multiple Spore Sub-Kingdom
Stomatophytes
Stomatophytes
Air Pores Sub-Kingdom
Embryophytes
Embryophytes
Multicellular Land Plants
Streptobionta
Streptobionta
Multicellular Plants
Plantae
Plantae
Plants
Eukaryota
Eukaryota
Cells with a Nucleus


General Information

Naturalized in America after the discovery of that country by the Spaniards. Francisco de Mendosa transplanted it from the East Indies into Spain, where Spanish-Americans cultivated it vigorously, so that in 1547 they exported 22,053 cwt. into Europe.

Ginger is of course one of the oldest spices known and references to its uses can be found in all the early medicinal texts and as early as 3000BC in Greek Literature. From the University of Salerno in Italy, a pioneering medical School in the middle ages, it was taught that for a happy life in old age: eat ginger and you will love and be loved as in your youth!

It originated in Asia, but could be found throughout Africa and Arabia long before people gave up on the idea that the world was flat. The Greeks and Romans used a lot of ginger, which is said to have come from India via Arabia by way of the Red Sea. The plant appears in European records dating to the 11th century, as it was among the heavily taxed spices on which the nobility made a few bucks. Marco Polo mentioned seeing it on his trip to Asia in 1280. It arrived in England early - herbalists from the 11th century onward wrote of it.

Medicinal Uses: Ginger has a range of actions in the body, cholagogue (stimulates the release of bile from the gall bladder) and hepatoprotective (protects the liver), possible stimulation of peristalsis and stomach secretions, a reduction in fevers, coughing, spasms, and reduction of the prostaglandins that increase smooth muscle contractions. Topically it is rubefacient (increases circulation to the area).
For the person with poor circulation a cup or two of infusion daily may be all that is required. For others the addition of 5ml per week of a 1:1 extract improves circulation as well as absorption of the rest of the formula.
A ginger bath can be very relaxing for a person with arthritic conditions and can be soothing for those with skin conditions such as rashes and dermatitis.
It can be added to poultices and compresses.
Even the crystallized ginger is medicinal
The Chinese name jiang means to defend, suggesting that ginger helps protect the body from cold. Pulverized fresh ginger applied as a poultice to the head two to three times a day was once used as a (Chinese)folk treatment for baldness, and fresh ginger rubbed on the affected area is a folk remedy for virtiligo. The juice squeezed from the fresh root has also been used in the treatment of burns. In modern China ginger is probably used in half of all Chinese herbal prescriptions

Food Uses: Young ginger rhizomes are juicy and fleshy with a very mild taste. 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. The juice from old ginger roots is extremely potent and is often used as a spice in Indian recipes and Chinese cuisine to flavor dishes such as seafood or mutton and vegetarian recipes. Powdered dry ginger root (ginger powder) is typically used to spice gingerbread and other recipes. Fresh ginger can be substituted for ground ginger at a ratio of 6 parts fresh for 1 part ground, although the flavors of fresh and dried ginger are not exactly interchangeable.

Ginger is also made into candy, is 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 spicier ginger beer which is popular in the Caribbean.

Fresh ginger should be peeled before eaten. For storage, the ginger should be wrapped tightly in a towel and placed in a plastic bag, and can be kept for about three weeks in a refrigerator and up to three months in a freezer.

Other Notes: The primary holy book of Islam, the Koran (Arabic, al-Quran) contains text which indicates that ginger is considered both a spiritual and a heavenly herb. Early Arab traders protected their supplies from Greeks and Romans by inventing stories of the primitive and ruthless peoples guarding ginger from thieving marauders. These tales didn´t stop the Greeks for too long and it was the Greeks who adopted ginger as a digestive aid. According to early written documentation, the Greeks incorporated ginger into bread which later became what we know as gingerbread. Later, the Romans brought ginger to Britain and Europe as a spice. After the fall of the Roman Empire ginger became a scarce and expensive commodity in Europe. Once Asian trade was renewed the demand for ginger in Europe was insatiable. It was used as a medicine as well as a spice, but is probably best remembered in the elaborate construction of gingerbread houses, based on the tale Hansel and Gretel



Ginger
Koehlers Medicinal-Plants 1887 [Image in Public Domain]

Comment: Ginger, Zingiber officinalis

Page Posts: 1

gardengeek
gardengeek
June 22, 2010
I just realized that gingers are a whole family of plants. Thanks!

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