Get to know one of the world’s oldest spices and one of the world’s most useful plants by exploring the different types of ginger, particularly as ginger roots and ginger plants.
Ginger is a perennial reed-like flowering plant with a rhizome that’s widely used as a spice. It originated in the tropical rainforests of the Indian continent and Southern Asia and was among the first spices exported from the Orient during the spice trade.
The word ginger came from the mid-14th century Old English gingifer, which came from the Medieval Latin gingiber, which came from the Greek zingiberis, from the Prakrit or Middle Indic word singabera, from the Sanskrit srngaveram that’s a combined word for srgnam, which means “horn,” and vera, which means “body,” in reference to the spice’s root.
Ginger Nutrition Facts Chart
Now let’s jump into your ginger options.
Basic Types of Ginger Roots
Also called green ginger, pink ginger, spring ginger, young ginger, stem ginger, or new ginger, it is usually candied and stored in some type of basic syrup. It is very commonly used in baking and in pastries, and it can be used in everything from seasoned butter to mincemeat, and much more. What’s more, it is very easy to make and to find recipes for if you start with the Internet.
Blue Hawaiian Ginger
This type of ginger is compact, low in fiber, and bluish in color. It is somewhat bigger than other types of ginger, and it can turn from blue to purple as it matures. The interior color is beige, and it has a pungent aroma.
White ginger is also called African ginger, and it is a large Indian herb that is cultivated for its beautiful white, fragrant flowers. The rootstock is frequently dried and scraped before being used in various recipes.
Yellow ginger is the most common type of ginger root used in the United States for recipes. It can also be called turmeric, and it is good for healing wounds, various types of pain, and even skin infections. Yellow ginger is an analgesic that is also anti-inflammatory, so it is a food product that serves numerous purposes.
Basic Types of Ginger Plants
Alpinia ginger grows vigorously and originated in southeast Asia. Growing up to eight feet in height, these plants have a fleshy pseudostem and very small flowers. In fact, the stems of this plant look a lot like the stems of a banana tree, with leaves that show off a closely folded pattern. They grow best with well-drained soil and prefer plenty of organic matter.
This type of ginger has cones shaped like beehives and is native to Thailand, hence its preference for tropical climates. It also does best in the afternoon shade and, in fact, doesn’t do well in the full sun of midday because the leaves will actually burn.
Butterfly Lily Ginger
This plant has many different names, including the Garland lily and the Ginger Lily. The flowers on the plant look a lot like butterfly wings, and the plant itself can get quite high – up to 19 feet in height. They come in a variety of shades, including yellow, white, orange, and red, to name a few, and even the leaves themselves have a lovely aroma. The Butterfly lily grows quickly and is used mostly for gardening purposes.
Dancing Ladies Ginger
Beautiful when placed in a vase, this flower has purple bracts with tiny yellow flowers growing from them, and they are meant only for gardens that get no frost. It will die down to nothing in the winter, and it likes well-drained soils and full shade.
Globba plants get around two feet in height and have flowers that hang from the stem. The leaves are long, but the stems are short, and they bloom starting in July. The Globba plant’s bracts are purplish mauve in color, and the plant grows best when planted in the shade and areas that are well-drained.
Much like the name implies, hidden ginger has leaves that actually hide the ginger itself, but it is also known as the Curcuma plant. It has green or variegated leaves, and it sometimes has a red blotch on its leaves. The stems are, sometimes, called pseudostems because leaves arise from leaf petioles. You can easily grow hidden ginger in pots, but they will need frequent repotting because they grow very fast.
Moth ginger plants have white flowers with a great aroma, and they are much shorter than other types of ginger plants, getting only to around five feet high. Their flowers look similar to a moth, hence their name, and it prefers moist shade and regular cutting back of the old leaves.
Growing up to roughly six feet in height, the red ginger plants do best when it’s warm outside and can acclimate to many different types of climates. Their flower spires are elegant and are usually red or pink in color, so they are beautiful when placed in vases.
These flowers look like unfurling shells that are gold and red in the center. They can reach almost 10 feet in height, and they look great alongside a driveway. If you trim the plants when they start to look ragged, the plants will look much better, and they prefer rich moist soils.
Originating from Southeast Asia, spiral ginger has bamboo-shaped stalks and form a circular pattern that looks like the stalks have been twisted. They grow well in a variety of climates, and their flower heads have green bracts with a reddish hue. Spiral ginger plants usually bloom in the summer, and they are good for ailments such as rash, fever, and even bronchitis.
The torch ginger plant has flowers of either red, white, or pink, and they have very wide flowers and very long leaves. If you’re interested in growing this type of ginger plant, you have to grow them in tropical-like climates only. Both the flowers and the flower buds are often used in Malaysian dishes, and they need a sheltered location and rich, moist soil to grow right.
Zingiber ginger plants have upright stems and a creamy-yellow color. Flowers are attached to bracts and have a shape similar to a pine cone. The bracts themselves are green but slightly translucent. One of its uses is in various types of shampoos, where a milky substance found in the cones can be included as an ingredient in the shampoo.