Ginger is an important spice in Asian and western cooking, and has an increasing reputation as a medicinal plant.
Ginger is used extensively as a spice in cuisines throughout the world. Though commonly referred to as a root, it is actually the rhizome of the monocotyledonous perennial plant Zingiber officinale. Originating in southern China, cultivation of ginger spread to India, Southeast Asia, West Africa, and the Caribbean. The English word ginger is etymologically related to the Tamil iñci , having been borrowed into Indo-European languages from a Dravidian language.
Ginger contains up to 3% of an essential oil that causes the fragrance of the spice. The main constituents are sesquiterpenoids with (-)-zingiberene as the main component. Lesser amounts of other sesquiterpenoids (β-sesquiphellandrene, bisabolene and farnesene) and a small monoterpenoid fraction (β-phelladrene, cineol, and citral) have also been identified. The pungent taste of ginger is due to nonvolatile phenylpropanoids (particularly gingerol and zingerone) and diarylheptanoids (gingeroles and shoagoles); the latter are more pungent and form from the former when ginger is dried. Cooking ginger transforms gingerol into zingerone, which is less pungent and has a spicy-sweet aroma
Some people are allergic to ginger. Generally, this is reported as having a gaseous component. This may take the form of flatulence, or it may take the form of an extreme constriction or tightening in the throat necessitating uncontrollable burping to relieve the pressure.
Ginger produces clusters of white and pink flower buds that bloom into yellow flowers. Because of the aesthetic appeal and the adaptivity of the plant to warm climates, ginger is often used as landscaping around subtropical homes.