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Zingiber officinale Roscoe

Family Name: Zingiberaceae
Synonyms: Amomum zingiber
Common Name: Halia, Common Ginger, Canton Ginger, Stem Ginger, Ginger, 姜
Full Sun: 6-8h Semi-Shade Moderate Water Herb & Spice Woody Herbaceous


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Monocotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub (Herbaceous)
Lifespan (in Singapore) Semi-Annual / Annual-Like
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 1.8 m


Native Distribution India to Southern China
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form An erect, slender and herbaceous plant, Z. officinale can grow up to 1.8 m high. Shoots (pseudostems) extend above ground, arising from buds on the underground rhizomes, which are thickened, branched, somewhat resembling a swollen hand.
Foliage The erect part of the plant growing above ground is known as a pseudostem, which is a shoot and not a true stem. Formed from a series of leaf sheaths wrapped tightly around one another, long narrow mid-green leaf blades are arranged alternately along this pseudostem.
Stems The rhizome, which is the source of ginger, is in fact the stem of the plant although often erroneously called a root, growing horizontally underground at a shallow depth. Covered with deciduous thin scales which leave ring-like scars, the epidermal layer is brown and corky, which is usually removed before use, while the flesh is pale yellow with a spicy scent.
Flowers Flowers are fragile and short-lived. White to pale yellow in colour with purplish lips that have yellow dots and striations, they protrude just beyond the greenish to yellowish leaf-like bracts. These are borne on cone-shaped spiked inflorescences that are found on shorter pseudostems that are separate from those that bear the leaves. In cultivated plants, these flowering stems are rarely, if ever, produced.
Fruits The fruit is a red capsule with a thin wall and 3-valved. Seeds are black and small, each with an aril (= an appendage growing at or near the scar of the seed or fleshy thickening of the seed coat).
Others - Plant Morphology This is the only species in the Zingiber genus that produces the culinary root and stem ginger. Of oriental origin, it was one of the first oriental spices to arrive in Europe, obtained by the Greeks and Romans from Arab traders. Other spices in the ginger family include the turmeric (Curcuma longa) and cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum).
Habitat Z. officinale is found in the humid partly-shaded tropical to subtropical lowland forests. While the plant prefers warm sunny conditions, it benefits from shade during hot periods, especially when young.
Cultivation Sensitive to waterlogging, Z. officinale prefers medium loams with an adequate supply of organic matter as it requires a large amount of nutrients. Nevertheless, it is able to grow on a wide range of soils with a pH of 6-7. Soil fertility must be high or fertilisers must be applied. It is also recommended that crop rotation is carried out with ginger and to grow it only once in 3-4 years, so as to reduce the incidence of pests and soil borne diseases. Ginger is often the first crop on land taken into cultivation and found in intercropping systems. Traditionally, the plant is propagated vegetatively by pieces of rhizome called seed pieces or sets, or via division. Propagation of the plant has been successfully carried out at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, using intermodal cuttings grown in a shallow mixture of coir and perlite and placed in a misting unit or closed glass case, heated at the base to 20 ˚C. It has been noted that vigorous plants have been produced by this method.
Etymology Zingiber, the genus name of the plant, is derived from the Sanskrit word “shringavera” meaning “shaped like a horn”, possibly an allusion to the shape of the plant’s rhizome. The specific epithet officinale was traditionally used to refer to a plant with health and medicinal properties that was sold in the apothecary.
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Herb and Spice : An essential ingredient in many Asian dishes, the fresh rhizome is often used as a spice in Indian and Chinese cuisine for instance. Western cuisine, on the other hand, favours the use of the spice in dried powdered form for sweet foods, such as gingerbread. Ginger may also be preserved with sugar to make crystallised ginger, a traditional Christmas delicacy as well as popular with Asians. Ginger oil (the oleoresin) is used to flavour ginger beer and ginger ale.)
Medicinal ( Ginger is very gentle to the stomach and is used frequently for indigestion and stomach pain. It is also very effective in treating diarrhoea and nausea. The chemical substance in ginger is capable in reducing fever and infection. Besides using the juice of the rhizome or the rhizome in crushed form, leaves may also be eaten, pounded and applied as a poultice or the juice extracted from the leaves and applied externally. In Anglo-Saxon times, the preserved ginger, produced by boiling the rhizome in sugar syrup, as well as ginger oil were used often for medicinal purposes. It has, however, been noted that ginger is known to cause allergic reactions in some when applied to the skin. Pregnant women should also use ginger with caution, as its safety is not confirmed.)
[Others]: Ginger oil, in addition to being used for beverages and medicine, is also a common ingredient in perfumery and cosmetics. It was even once thought that the ginger plant could act as a safeguard against marauding tigers.

Landscaping Features

Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses Flowerbed / Border
Usage Hazard - Cons Remarks Ginger is known to cause allergic reactions in some when applied to the skin. Pregnant women should also use ginger with caution, as its safety is not confirmed.

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Propagation Method Storage Organ, Division


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Monocot)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Specialised Storage Organ(s) Underground (Rhizome)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Purple, White, Yellow / Golden

Fruit, Seed & Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Red
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Capsule

Image Repository



Master ID 1280
Species ID 2573
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 20 April 2020.