Zingiberaceae or the ginger family is a large family with 46 to 52 genera and more than a thousand species. Plants in this family are found in the tropics of Africa, Asia and the Americas, with the greatest number in Southeast Asia. They are small to large perennial plants with creeping horizontal or tuberous rhizomes. An important distinguishing characteristic is the presence of essential oils in their tissues. Plants are self supporting or epiphytic. The alternate evergreen leaves often have sheaths that form a pseudostem. Leaves usually do not have an odor, in contrast to other parts of the plant (the roots and fruits) which may be aromatic.

The often showy flowers have 3 sepals united into a tube at the base and different from the more conspicuous 3 inner petals which are united at the base into a long tube. Of the three stamens, only one is fertile. Another distinguishing characteristic is the presence of a lip or labellum that is usually formed by the fusion of the two sterile stamens. The ovary is inferior and 3 chambered. The fruit is a capsule or a berry. In this family there are important ornamental species and species used for their fragrant oils in perfume and others used as spices in cooking (tumeric, ginger, cardamon).

Genera of Zingiberaceae on the PBS wiki
Aframomum Alpinia Amomum Burbidgea
Caulokaempferia Cautleya Cornukaempferia Curcuma
Etlingera Globba Hedychium Kaempferia
Nicolaia Roscoea Siphonochilus Stahlianthus

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Page last modified on March 06, 2009, at 10:55 PM