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Ginger (Zingiber officinale), illustration

Ginger ( Zingiber officinale ), illustration

Order : Gingery (Zingiberales)
Family : Ginger family (Zingiberaceae)
Genre : Ginger ( zingiber )
Type : ginger
Scientific name
Zingiber officinale
Inflorescences with flower buds

The ginger ( Zingiber officinale ), also Ingber , Imber , Always root and ginger root called, is a species of the genus ginger ( Zingiber ) within the family of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae). The main subterranean sprout of ginger, the ginger rhizome (also called ginger rootstock), is used as a kitchen spice or medicinal drug (also called ginger ) ; the pharmaceutical name for the ginger rhizome is Zingiberis rhizoma .


Habit of underground and above-ground parts of plants, freshly harvested ginger plants

Vegetative characteristics

Inflorescences at the end of the anthesis
Zygomorphic flower

Ginger is a perennial herbaceous plant that reaches heights of 50 to over 150 centimeters. The thick stem and long leaves give the plant a reed-like appearance. A branched rhizome is formed as a persistence organ, which grows horizontally in the earth and is yellowish and very aromatic on the inside. The roots are created along the rhizome as adventitious roots .

The more or less two-line leaves are sessile. The simple, parallel-veined leaf blades are 15 to 30 inches long and 2 to 2.5 inches wide.

Generative characteristics

The inflorescence is formed directly from the rhizome ; it consists of an inflorescence stem up to 25 centimeters long, light green bracts , which sometimes have a yellowish edge, and many flowers.

The hermaphrodite flowers are zygomorphic and threefold. The inflorescence is not divided into calyx and crown, it is a two-circle perigon . The three outer tepals are about 1 centimeter long and spathe-shaped. The three inner tepals are fused with tubes; the yellowish green corolla tube is 2 to 2.5 centimeters long; the three petals are about 1.8 centimeters long, the additional, shorter "petals", the "labellum" (the two petaloid fused staminodes in the inner stamen circle), is three-lobed and reddish in color and lightly dotted, the two small, lateral lobes of the Labellums are about 6 millimeters long. The fertile stamen in the outer circle, opposite the labellum, is dark purple with a short, runny stamen and an approximately 9 millimeter long, long spurred anthers which together encompass the style. There are two petaloid staminodes in the outer circle of the stamen. Three carpels are fused to form a subordinate, three- chamber ovary. The long stylus is protruding.

There are fruit capsules formed. The black seeds are wrapped in a white aril .

The number of chromosomes is 2n = 22.


Structural formula of gingerol, a pungent aromatic substance

The smell of the ginger is aromatic, the taste burning hot and spicy. Essential components are an essential oil , resin acids and neutral resin as well as gingerol , a pungent aromatic substance. The gingerol gives the ginger its spiciness .

Ginger also contains zingiberen , zingiberol , shogaol and diarylheptanoids . The ginger rhizome also contains the digestive, stomach-strengthening, appetite and circulation-stimulating substances borneol , cineol , the pungent substances shogaol and zingerone as well as vitamin C , magnesium , iron , calcium , potassium , sodium and phosphorus .


The word ginger (Middle High German ingewër ) comes from Old High German gingibero and Old French gimgibre from the Latin gingiber or zingiber . This, in turn, is borrowed from Central Indian through the mediation of Greek (ζιγγίβερις zingiberis ) (cf. Pali siṅgivera ). The first component of this is a wandering word that can be found in almost all languages ​​of Southeast Asia without the origin being clarified (cf. Tamil inji , Sinhala inguru , Burmese gyin ). The second component is a Dravidian word for "root" (cf. Tamil vēr ). The derivation of Sanskrit śṛṅgavera "horn root" (because of the curved shape) is based on a later reinterpretation.

Distribution and cultivation area

Ginger grows in the tropics and subtropics . It is grown in countries such as Sri Lanka , India , Indonesia , Vietnam , China , Japan , Taiwan , Australia , France and Nigeria, as well as in South America . The home of the ginger plant is not known for certain. It may have its origin in Sri Lanka or the Pacific islands. In the 9th century the plant became known in German-speaking countries. The largest producer is India with around 250,000 tons per year, the largest growing area is in Nigeria, and the largest exporter is China.

The fresh ginger rhizome is used as a kitchen spice


As a food plant

Green ginger is the name given to the young, milder-tasting rhizomes. The rhizomes are used - especially in South and East Asia , and there for a long time - as a spice and remedy (e.g. for coughs). Before chili peppers were introduced from America at the beginning of modern times, ginger was usually the only hot spice available in East Asia alongside pepper . Ginger has anti -bacterial and antiviral effect acting antiemetic (against vomiting protectively), promotes blood circulation , which increases bile production. In Japan, the particularly thick ginger roots are harvested from rhizotomes because they are very popular as an aphrodisiac . Depending on the production method, harvest time and preparation method, ginger is a mild or hot spice. Ginger is also available as a natural herbal drink (ginger press juice).

Food chemists have found that the hot substance gingerol-6 contained in ginger can neutralize bad breath by stimulating precisely the salivary enzyme that is able to dissolve sulfur compounds.


Ginger is one of the better known kitchen herbs and spices, fresh as well as dried and ground . For example, you can grind a peeled piece of the ginger rhizome on the kitchen grater and add it (shortly after cooking or frying) in soups or on chicken. It goes well with poultry and lamb, as well as fish and seafood . It serves pure or in mixtures ( curries , chutneys , jams , sauces ) as a spice. Also gingerbread , Printen , rice pudding , fruit salad , tea and fruity cold dishes are seasoned with ground ginger.


Ginger plums or ginger nuts are pieces of fresh ginger in syrup . Other sweet ginger preparations are candied ginger (also coated with chocolate ) and ginger jam, which is popular especially in Great Britain . Young ginger sprouts are occasionally used in the tropics as a very spicy vegetable or as a seasoning herb . Pickled ginger comes from Japan and is eaten as a gari between different sushi courses and as such is common in sushi restaurants all over the world.


Ginger is widely used in the beverage ( ginger ale , ginger beer ) and food industries. Ginger Ale is a non-alcoholic ginger-flavored lemonade that was particularly popular around the mid-20th century. Because of its stimulating effect on sweating , ginger is popular in hot countries as an addition to coffee or tea . Pure ginger tea is also used.

As a medicinal plant

The "ginger root stock" contains a viscous balsam ( oleoresin ), which consists of essential oils and a hot substance, the gingerols and shogaols . Preparations made from the “ginger rootstock” are said to have antioxidant , antiemetic , anti-inflammatory and stimulating effects on gastric juice , saliva and gall formation as well as intestinal function and are therefore prescribed in traditional Asian medicine for the treatment of rheumatism , muscle pain and colds . The Commission E and the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP) advocate the use of ginger roots on gastrointestinal discomfort and anti-nausea.

Ginger was named Medicinal Plant of the Year 2018 by the NHV Theophrastus .

Against nausea and vomiting

The antiemetic effect appears to be mediated by a direct effect on the gastrointestinal tract. Is also discussed a antagonism of serotonin - type 3 receptors . A meta-analysis showed a moderate effect of ginger on the incidence of postoperative vomiting compared to treatment with placebo (RR: 0.69 (95%) confidence interval : 0.54-0.89).

Even if many sailors swear by the effects of ginger against seasickness , there is so far little evidence for the effectiveness of ginger in the treatment of seasickness : In a small double-blind study carried out on 80 Danish midshipmen on the high seas, however, ginger reduced in The incidence of vomiting was significant compared to placebo. In a study at Brigham Young University in the United States, twelve students were given a placebo, twelve a well-known drug against seasickness ( dimenhydrinate ) and twelve dried ginger. The students were then asked to sit in a chair that rotated, raised, and lowered simultaneously for six minutes. While the group with the placebo could not stand the full time and felt the strongest nausea, the ginger group could stay in the stool for the full six minutes. The group that received the drug dimenhydrinate endured it longer than the placebo group, but only four minutes on average and with more nausea than the ginger group.

For efficacy in the treatment of pregnancy vomiting , there is no convincing evidence.

Effects on blood clotting

Ginger may have an inhibitory effect on blood clotting , as described in some case reports . This has been observed both when taken alone and as an intensifying effect on coumarin therapy. However, due to a lack of data, the nature of the relationship is unclear.


The ingredient gingerol inhibits the expression of the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 , which causes inflammatory reactions such. B. mediated in osteoarthritis and rheumatism . In the treatment of osteoarthritis patients, the same pain relief was achieved with ginger extracts as with ibuprofen .

Veterinary medicine

Since 2002, ginger has also been used in horse feeding as a remedy for inflammation and osteoarthritis , especially the bitter substances shogaole and gingerole have a metabolism-promoting and anti-inflammatory effect.

History of medical use

Chinese medicine

Ginger trade in a market in Haikou, Hainan, China

Raw ginger (shēng jiāng 生姜) was mentioned in the Shennong ben cao jing .

The Taoist doctor Tao Hongjing (452-536) distinguished in his collection of recipes by famous doctors (míngyī biélù 名医 别 录) between raw ginger (shēng jiāng 生姜) and dried ginger (gān jiāng 干姜). This distinction is still valid today and different levels of effect are ascribed to the different forms of condition.

  • On the surface of the body, raw ginger fends off illnesses that penetrate from the outside ("colds"). It warms the upper digestive system ("spleen" - "stomach"), loosens phlegm and relieves coughs.
  • Dried ginger warms the upper digestive system and removes mucus if you are short of breath - so it does not affect the body surface.

Medieval medicine

According to Dioscurides and Pliny , ginger came from "troglodytic Arabia" , according to Galen from "Barbaria". Dioscurides recommended it as a digestive spice - similar to pepper - as a remedy for "darkening the eyes" , as good for the stomach and as an antidote. This information was taken over by doctors who published Arabic and by the northern European doctors of the Middle Ages.

Illustration in Bentley / Trimen 1880


In the 19th century, ginger root was still a component of Tinctura aromatica - the aromatic tincture . This was included in the group of "irritating drugs (Erethistica)":

“Take: two ounces of cassie , small cardamoms , cloves , galangal root , ginger root each half an ounce [4 grams]. Powder them coarsely and pour two pounds of rectified alcohol on them. Macerate for eight days in a closed vessel that must be shaken frequently, then squeeze and filter. It is red-brown in color. "

- Karl Friedrich Mohr : Commentary on the Prussian Pharmacopoeia (6th edition). Vieweg and Son, Braunschweig 1854, Volume II, p. 373.

Other uses

In the English language, the term ginger refers to the use of ginger in certain well-known foods, for example in the drink ginger ale or in gingerbread ( gingerbread ).

A prepared ginger rhizome is used in the figging sexual practice .

Ginger field


Economical meaning

The growing areas for ginger are in the tropics and subtropics. With an area of ​​172,028 hectares (2018), India has the largest growing area in the world (46.1% of 373,121 hectares). India is also the largest producer in terms of volume, but mostly for its own use. According to the food and agriculture organization FAO, around 2.8 million tons of ginger were produced worldwide in 2018 .

The following table gives an overview of the six largest producers of ginger worldwide, who produced a total of 87.3% of the harvest.

Largest ginger producers (2018)
rank country Quantity
(in t )
1 IndiaIndia India 893.242
2 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 510.035
3 NigeriaNigeria Nigeria 369.019
4th NepalNepal Nepal 284,000
5 IndonesiaIndonesia Indonesia 207.412
6th ThailandThailand Thailand 167,952
world 2,785,572


After a growth phase of a good eight months, the ginger is harvested in India. This ginger is still young and tender and is therefore mainly used in the kitchen. After a further eight to ten months of growth, when the reed-like leaves turn yellow, you can start harvesting the spice ginger. This is dried and later ground into powder. The ginger is mostly harvested by hand or with forks , but harvesting machines can also be used.

See also


Web links

Commons : Ginger ( Zingiber officinale )  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Ginger  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


Individual evidence

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