Members of the Zingerberaceae family are perennial herbs, comprising about 47 genera and around 1,000 species. This family includes gingers, bananas, birds of paradise, heliconia, and cannas. The ginger family is found in many parts of the world. In the Zoo's growing collection, we have around 50 species representing the Americas, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific. Included in our Ginger Garden: shampoo ginger Zingiber zerumbet, which gets it common name from the soapy substance that can be squeezed from the cone; and white ginger lily Hedychium coronarium, also known as the garland flower, as it is commonly used to make leis throughout Polynesia.
Many gingers are used as medicinal or culinary herbs. The most common culinary ginger is true ginger Zingiber officinale. Slightly less known is the spice tumeric. Gingers are also used extensively as cut flowers, due to their delightful fragrance. We are continuing to develop our new ginger area at the bottom of Fern Canyon. Come by and see the collection as new plantings continue.