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Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a slender perennial herb (30 to 100 cm tall) that is usually grown as an annual. Ginger reproduces exclusively asexually and flowers are seldom seen on culinary Ginger plants. Ginger originated in Southeast Asia, but it is not known in the wild.

The underground tuberous stem or rhizome constitutes the spice. It has been used as a spice and medicine in India and China since ancient times, was known to the Greeks and Romans, and was generally known throughout Europe by the tenth century. Today, Ginger is grown in most tropical countries, with major producers including India, China, Indonesia, Nepal, Nigeria, and Thailand (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's FAOSTAT website, 2010 data). It is propagated from pieces of rhizome. After 5 to 7 months, the new young rhizomes are dug up manually or by mechanical means and are preserved in sugar syrup or used for crystallized ginger. The older rhizomes (harvested after 8 to 10 months) become dried ginger, which is used in baking, in beverages, and in a wide range of other culinary applications around the world. Oleoresin and essential oil are also produced from ginger.

(Vaughan and Geissler 1997)


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