Gingers (Zingiberaceae)

Gingers (Zingiberaceae) are a remarkable family of monocotyledons. There are approximately 50 genera and 1600 species that grow in the tropics around the world. Most of them can be found in the Indomalayan realm. The most numerous are gingers from the mountainous area of Southeast Asia, where they grow in forest undergrowth. They grow not only on the ground, but also as epiphytes - plants attached to tree trunks and branches. 

Gingers are perennial herbs with fleshy rhizomes and can be either evergreen or dormant for a certain part of the year (depending on environmental conditions). Plants from this family typically have distichous leaves with sheaths. They are arranged on top of each other, forming a false stem. Their monoclinous, highly symmetrical flowers are often grouped into attractive inflorescences. Some genera have flowers supported by brightly coloured and perennial bracts, while others have a pleasant smell.

Gingers are usually highly aromatic. A large amount of essential oils is often concentrated in their rhizomes, seeds or in leaves. It is, therefore, not surprising that this family is very popular. Many representatives are used in folk medicine or as sources of raw materials for the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Some species (ginger, turmeric, cardamom) serve as spices or aromatic vegetables. 

On the other hand, the separate Costaceae family is a relatively small group, which contains only 143 species. Their leaves are typically arranged into spirals and they are widespread in tropical areas. Different genera usually have strong ties to a particular territory.

Our collection of Zingiberaceae and Costaceae plants is the largest in Central Europe. Currently, it contains over 500 items from 200 species. The collection includes plants from valuable expeditions to Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, China, India, Indonesia, Guatemala and other places visited either by our staff or external donors and organizations. For a long time, our garden has been collaborating with the Singapore Botanic Gardens and has exchanged items with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh several times. Our collection provides valuable plant material to the scientific team at the Department of Botany of the Faculty of Science of the Charles University. 

Gingers can be found both in the lowland and mountain parts of the Fata Morgana Greenhouse. Himalayan species are planted in the outdoor expositions. The main part of the collection, however, is located in the garden's facilities and is not accessible to visitors. Our collection has very high value for scientists and researchers. 

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