Plants
Gingers of the world
-By Rani Iyer

"Mother," called the shopkeeper in the market as my mother and I passed his shop. My mother stopped, scanning the market quickly before retracing the steps back to the shop. "Mother, I have the ginger for you," he said with a brilliant smile.
"Mango ginger!" my mother exclaimed in delight.
"Fresh," he replied.
"Did you get plenty?" she demanded.
"Next time…"
"Well, I will take all that you have…"
The rest of the market got only a cursory visit. "Let us go home and make the ginger curry," she said with an excitement I have rarely witnessed.
"No!" I said, but it was evident that she was not listening.
"Mango ginger…" she muttered under her breath as we raced home.
"Blah, ginger." I replied.
"Wait till you taste mango ginger.

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They are the kings of ginger."
That evening tasting the mild ginger with a tinge of mango, I had to agree that it was unique.
There is hardly anyone in India who would not have tasted ginger. It is a pungent rhizome that is used in cooking and medicines. There are over 1300 species of ginger all over the tropics. Most species like Alpinia galanga, Costus speciosus, Amomum sp., Curcuma domestica, Hedychium coccineum, and Kaempferia galanga have medicinal properties. Although called as 'gingers' some plants don't belong the family. For example, the 'Blue or Brazilian ginger', Dichorisandra thyrsiflora, belongs to family Commelinaceae. Gingers are used in traditional medicines all over the tropics. Their healing, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties have been utilized since time immemorial. Curcuma yields the turmeric powder and dye. Curcuma is also one of the best natural anti-oxidants known to man.
Species like Globba are also used for cut flowers in international market. Rhizomes and flowers of many species of Hedychium are used in perfumes. Gingers are among the under-studied group of plants in all areas. Take an interest in studying them and make a difference.



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