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General Features of the family Zingiberaceae

Zingiberaceae with about 50 genera and more than 1500 species are distributed mainly in the tropics and subtropics. India has rich diversity of Zingiberaceous plants. perhaps 200 of the world taxa occur in India. Many species are economically important as source of food.


The Zingiberaceae form an important group with considerable economic potential, with plants such as Aframomum, Amomum, Curcuma, Elettaria, Kaempferia and Zingiber. Many members of this group have been used in Ayurvedic and other native systems of medicine from time immemorial and some are well known spices. Elettaria cardamomum is far more important economically than others and constitutes the second most important 'National Spice' of India and is known as the 'Queen of Spices' and it forms one of the most valuable crops of South India. In India, state of Kerala has the largest area under cardamom cultivation (about 62% of the total), followed by Karnataka (31%) and Tamil Nadu (7%). Zingiber officinale also constitutes one of the five most important major spices of India and about 70% of the total ginger production is confined to Kerala alone, which produces best quality ginger. Curcuma longa is another very important spice of India and a traditional item of export from ancient times (Pruthi, 1976). Dried rhizome of Zingiber officinale is called the “Chukku” of commerce, which is a major ingredient of Ayurvedic decoction preparations. Curcuma longa is also another very important medicinal plant in this group it is used in a wide range of Ayurvedic medicinal preparations such as cosmetic, wound healing, various types of insect and food poisoning, etc. Another member of this family Alpinia is also medicinally very important The widely used Rasnadi choornam is made from the dried rhizome of Alpinia calcarata. Alpinia galanga is also medicinally very important. Kaempferia galanga is used as a very effective remedy against the digestive disorders.

Alpinia calcarata

Curcuma longa

Zingiber officinale

Zingiber zerumbet

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