A perennial herb that grows hardy in zones 9-11+. The plants prefer warmth, a fast-draining soil, part shade, and protection from frost. They can be grown indoors in the temperate north, with their substantial root systems used as a cooking spice, mainly for curries and soups. The flavor has a hotness but with a sweet aromatic taste. The root is also the source of an essential oil used in flavoring medicinal bitters and liquors. The Chinese have long recognized its potent stimulating and digestive properties; even today it is still the best home remedy for flatulence, nausea, nervous diarrhea, indigestion and dysentery.
From its origin to the present, ginger is the world’s most widely cultivated herb. Testimonials of both the medicinal and economic importance of ginger have been recorded as far back as five thousand-year-old Greek literature to 200 B.C. Ancient literature from the Middle East, Asia and Europe write of its impact. Chinese records chronicle the immense wealth associated with growing acres of ginger. Trade in spices like ginger could easily be associated with one’s wealth and power. In the Middle Ages, as little as just one pound was worth 1 shilling and 7 pence, approximately equivalent to the price of a sheep. Having such a rich history, it’s easy to see how explorers like Marco Polo and Vasco da Gama were careful to document the cultivation of ginger.
The historical reverence for and usage of ginger is simply staggering. Ginger had great historic, medicinal value as a spiritual beverage, aphrodisiac, digestive aid, etc. Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic Indian systems viewed ginger as a healing gift from God. Chinese pharmacopeias claim long term use of fresh ginger as putting a person in contact with the spiritual advantages. Writings of the Koran describe ginger as a beverage of the holiest heavenly spirits. Its healing heritage is unmatched in the history of medicine.