pronounced: zing-ee-ber-RAY-see-eye

the ginger family


Zingiber comes originally from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘shaped like a horn’. The Greeks coined their own word ζιγγιβερρι (zingiberri) from the Sanskrit word; the Romans took over the Greek word and made it zingiber, which in Late Latin became gingiber; it passed into Middle English as gingevere, then finally to ginger. The Zingiberaceae are perennial aromatic herbs that frequently have forked fleshy rhizomes. The leaves are alternate and distichous, the base sheathing and the blade mostly linear to elliptic. The sepals (usually green) differ in texture and colour from the petals; bracts are spirally arranged, and the flower structures are spiral and cone-like. The flower has a labellum like an orchid’s. The fruit is a loculicidal capsule, or is berry-like.


Illustration from Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen, via Wikimedia Commons