Florida Heritage Foods


Common name


Scientific Name

Zingiber sp

Other Common Names

姜 (jiāng, Mandarin), gingembre (French), अदरक (Adrak,Hindi), આદુ ( Ādu,Gujarati),Tangawizi (Swahili) Sinjibiisha (Somali), ليبجنز (zanjabil, Arabic)
Ginger has been used in India and China for over 5000 years. It made its way to Florida during European colonization. It is not only used in Asian-American cuisine, it is also a popular ingredient in beverages, candies, natural remedies, and baked goods. Ginger grows well in Florida, and its green foliage and colorful flowers provide beautiful landscaping in addition to its edible root.

Historical Significance

Ginger root at a market in China
Archaeological evidence shows that ginger has been used in India and China for at least 5000 years. It expanded into Europe via trade routes during the Roman Empire, and it was in high demand in the Spice Trade routes that connected Europe, Africa and Asia through the Middle Ages into the 19th century. Ginger made its way to the Americas during European colonialism in the 16th century. It gained significant popularity in the Caribbean and eventually made its way to Florida.

Cultural Significance

Ginger is used in a wide variety of culinary preparations worldwide. In India it is used as a spice in curries and in candies such as inji murappa. European cuisine features ginger in baked goods such as gingerbread, ginger snaps, and ginger cakes. In Asia, ginger is an essential ingredient in many sauces and pickled products such as kimchi in Korea and beni shoga or gari in Japan. In West Africa ginger is combined with roselle, hot peppers and spices to make an invigorating beverage. Ginger beer was popularized in Jamaica, and this influenced the American version of ginger ale. In Florida today, ginger remains a common ingredient in Asian, African, Latin and Indian foods throughout the state, and it has been integrated into a broad spectrum of Americana foods commonly found in most grocery stores.

Cooking With Ginger

Raw ginger is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium
Ginger Plant Card Photo
Ginger Plant Card Photo

Growing Tips

Ginger is propagated from pieces of the root. Dry three-inch pieces for a few days before planting at least three inches deep and one foot apart in well-drained soil after the possibility of frost but before the summer heat sets in (April-June). Ginger likes shade and will do well in partial and even full shade. Be attentive to keeping the soil moist for 2-3 weeks, at which time the young sprouts come up through the soil. Shade dry harvested roots until the skin becomes dry before using. (It is important to note that ginger root in the grocery store may have been irradiated to prevent sprouting and will not grow in the garden.) To plan a heritage garden, download the ‘Planning a Florida Heritage Garden (PDF).’

Plant - Ginger