The ginger plant has been used from times immemorial in India for medicinal purposes. The Ayurvedic treatment methodology used in India has found many applications of this plant. Ginger plant is truly a nature’s gift to mankind.
Ginger is a monocotyledonous rhizome which belongs to the family, Zingiberaceae. Origin of the word ‘ginger’ lies in the French, gingembre and ultimately in the Tamil inji ver. This plant is mainly used for medicinal purpose. Ginger is also used as a spice for adding taste to food. Knowing more about the different types should educate us about this useful plant.
Ginger Plant Types
The characteristic feature of ginger plants is that its flower possess unusual shapes. The different types of ginger plants have great variety in floral arrangement, size of rhizomes, shapes of leaves, etc.
This ginger plant is indigenous to the region of southeast Asia. Botanical name of spiral ginger is Costus speciosus. Stalks of the costus are bamboo-shaped and they form a circular pattern by means of twisting; this is the reason why the plant is referred to as spiral ginger. It can grow well in a variety of climatic conditions like the subtropical, temperate and grasslands. The plant is characterized by flower heads formed of green bracts. The bracts possess a reddish tinge and are arranged in an overlapping pattern. Blooming season of the spiral ginger is summer. This plant is used in the treatment of ailments like fever, asthma, rash, bronchitis, etc.
The hidden ginger plant is called so because, its flowers are hidden within leaves. Curcuma is however, the commonly used name for this plant. The curcuma is a deciduous plant with branched rhizomes and either green or variegated leaves. In some cases, a red blotch is found on the leaves. A special feature of stems of curcuma is that they are formed of leaf petioles; leaves arise from these petioles. These stems are therefore, also referred to as pseudo stems. Flowers of curcuma plant arise from the top of pseudo stems. Curcuma grows well in pots however, the rhizomes need frequent re-potting since it grows at a fast rate.
A herbaceous plant with upright stem, the zingiber is characterized by flowers that are creamy yellow in color. Flowers of zingibers are attached to bracts with a pine-cone shape. Bracts are green in color and possess a translucent margin. Rhizomes of this plant are warty and branched. Cones of the zingiber plants contain a milky substance that is used in the preparation of shampoos.
The butterfly lily is known by many different names i.e., Ginger Lily, Garland Lily, White Ginger plant and Hedychium. The butterfly plant is called so because its flowers closely resemble the wings of butterflies. Height of this plant ranges from half meter to 6 meters. Flowers come in a variety of shades like orange, white, red, yellow, etc. Size of the flowers is quite large and even leaves are perfumed. Hydechiums are mostly used for the purpose of gardening. Rhizomes of this plant grow quickly and therefore, one needs to transplant the hydechiums frequently.
The globba plant attains a height of around 2 feet and is characterized by flowers that hang from the stem. Leaves of the globba are long and the stems short in length. Blooming season of this plant starts in the month of July and continues up to the dormancy period in fall. Bracts of globba are mauve-purple in color. A well-drained and fertile soil is considered ideal for growing the globba; it grows well in shade. Small pieces of ginger root are used for propagation.
This plant from southeast Asia is known for its vigorous growth. It can reach up to a height of 8 feet. Alpinias possess a fleshy pseudo stem and their flowers are smaller in size. Stem of this plant resembles that of a banana tree and it possesses leaves which exhibit a closely folded pattern. A well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter is needed for the healthy growth of this plant. Propagation of the alpinia is carried out by cutting the rhizomes.
The requirements of ginger plants need to be understood properly for the purpose of cultivation. Humid conditions would help the plant to attain healthy growth. The ginger plant has many uses and its different types and varieties add ‘flavor’ to our lives. Studying about the different types should prove to be useful in cultivating and thereby, benefiting from this plant.