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How to Identify Ginger Plants

By April Kohl ; Updated July 21, 2017
Ginger root is instantly recognisable but the plant can be mistaken for other species.
Martin Child/Photodisc/Getty Images

The ginger plant is famous for its highly scented and tasty roots, which give us the ginger spice. Because the most recognizable part of the plant grows below ground, anyone wanting to find ginger in the wild must learn to spot its leaves and flowers. Knowing how to identify ginger plants will let you find ginger wherever it is growing.

Examine the shape and surface of the leaves. Ginger plants sprout shiny, heart-shaped, basal leaves. This means they only grow from the bottom of the plant, not the crown or anywhere further up. Examine the base of the leaf stems. Ginger plants have hairy bases to the stems, like they are covered in fine white whiskers.

Examine the flowers. Ginger plants bloom in early spring and only continue through to late spring, so flowers outside of this time mean the plant is not ginger. The flowers themselves are tripartite (they come in three parts), a brown or purple color (although some species can be a deep red or even green) and grow from the base of the plant, making them easy to miss.

Note the location of the plant. Ginger plants prefer woodland areas and tend to grow in the shade and do well in warm, moist areas such as forests and heavy woodland. Although they grow in other areas, ginger is particularly abundant in tropical regions, such as Jamaica, the West Indies and parts of China.


About the Author


Based in the United Kingdom, April Kohl has been writing since 1992, specializing in science and legal topics. Her work has appeared on the Second Life News Network website and in British Mensa's "LSQ" magazine. Kohl holds a Bachelor of Science in physics from Durham University and a diploma in English law from the Open University.