Spiral Ginger, Costus
Z is for Zingiberaceae
The ginger family, also known as Zingiberaceae, are a family of flowering plants consisting of aromatic herbs with creeping horizontal or tuberous rhizomes, comprising of 52 genera and more than 1,300 species. These aromatic herbs grow in moist areas of the tropics and subtropics, including regions that are seasonably dry.
Many species are important ornamental plants, spices or medicinal plants. Spices include turmeric, ginger, galangal or Thai ginger, melegueta pepper and cardamom. Ornamental genera include the shell gingers, torch ginger, ginger lily and summer tulip.
Ginger is one of the ancient medicines in Asia and India, it's healing properties are popular in alternative medicine. It is particularly useful in treating chronic inflammation. Ginger does not cause stomach irritation, instead it helps protect and heal the gut. It helps relieve nausea and destroys a host of viruses.
At home, we love using turmeric (Curcuma longa) in cooking. I like its peppery flavor and mild fragrance reminiscent of orange and ginger. It is commonly used as food coloring and is one of the basic ingredients in curry powder. It is also used to treat digestive disorders--it improves digestion, reduce gas and bloating. Turmeric is said to shrink enlarged hepatic ducts, so it is useful to those with liver conditions such as hepatitis, cirrhosis and jaundice. It also relieves menstrual cramps and arthritic pain.
Raw ginger is often used here as a throat lozenge. Salabat, or ginger tea, is a favorite drink in the Philippines during cold season, especially around Christmastime. This drink is made from boiling crushed fresh ginger. A slice of lemon or a twist of calamansi (local lemon) and sugar or honey are usually added to Salabat. It soothes sore throat, eases cold symptoms and stomach aches. Powdered salabat is now available commercially.
The ornamental gingers are beautiful and this Red Cone Ginger flower is one of my favorite. I have known this flower since I was very young. My grandmother had a bunch of Red Cone Gingers around her garden, especially near the well that was the neighborhood's water source since the 1930's. The moist area around the well was a perfect habitat for gingers.
Red Cone Ginger, Alpinia purpurata
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