Zingiber officinale (rhizome)

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Zingiber officinale Roscoe   Zingiberaceae  
Standardized common name (English): ginger  
Ayurvedic name(s): ardraka (fresh rhizome); shunthi (dried rhizome)  
Pinyin name(s): jiang; sheng jiang (fresh rhizome); gan jiang (dried rhizome); pao jiang (prepared rhizome); jiang pi (peel)

Botanical Voucher Specimen

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Zingiber officinale Tropicos 36467.jpg
Source: MOBOT, Tropicos.org[1]

Zingiber officinale Kew barcode=K001124208 706423.jpg
Source: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.[2]

Organoleptic Characteristics

The flowers have an aromatic odor, and the stems when bruised are slightly fragrant...

The odor of ginger [rhizome] is aromatic and penetrating, the taste spicy, pungent, hot, and biting. These properties gradually diminish, and are ultimately lost, by exposure.
Source: United States Dispensatory (1918) [3]

Macroscopic Characteristics

The ginger plant, Zingiber officinale, has a biennial or perennial, creeping rhizome, and an annual stem, which rises two or three feet in height, is solid, cylindrical, erect, and enclosed in an imbricated membranous sheathing. The leaves are lanceolate, acute, smooth, five or six inches long by about an inch in breadth, and stand alternately on the sheaths of the stem. The flower-stalk rises by the side of the stem from six inches to a foot, and, like it, is clothed with oval acuminate sheaths; but it is without leaves, and terminates in an oval, obtuse bracteal, imbricated spike. The flowers are of a dingy yellow color, and appear two or three at a time between the bracteal scales.

[The] so-called white or Jamaica ginger is produced by carefully peeling the fresh rhizomes so that only the epidermis is removed, the cells immediately beneath the epidermis being the richest in volatile oil and resin. [...] The recent root is from one to four inches long, somewhat flattened on its upper and under surface, knotty, obtusely and irregularly branched or lobed, externally of a light ash color with circular rugae, internally yellowish-white and fleshy. It sometimes begins to grow when kept in a damp atmosphere. The common or black ginger is of the same general shape, but has a dark ash-colored wrinkled epidermis, which, being removed in some places, exhibits patches of an almost black color, apparently the result of exposure. Beneath the epidermis is a brownish, resinous, almost homy cortical portion. The interior parenchyma is whitish, the cells being filled with starch. The powder is of a light yellowish-brown color. This variety is most extensively used. The Jamaica or white ginger is white or yellowish-white on the outside. The pieces are rounder and thinner, and afford when pulverized a beautiful yellowish-white powder.

Source: United States Dispensatory (1918) [4]

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MOBOT line drawing Zingiber officinale.jpg
Source: MOBOT, Tropicos.org[5]

Zingiber officinale - INGWER - Kohler.jpg
Zingiber officinale
Source: Köhler, Medizinal-Pflanzen in naturgetreuen Abbildungen und kurzerläuterndemTexte (1887)[6]

PlantaPhile - 258.jpg
Ginger rhizomes (Zingiber officinale)
Source: PlantaPhile[7]

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Zingiber officinale WikiMedia Commons - Dalgial.JPG
Source: WikiMedia Commons (Dalgial)[8]

Zingiber officinale aerial parts and flower - © Reinaldo Aguilar - EOL - 57342 orig.jpg
Ginger Aerial Parts and Flower
Source: Encyclopedia of Life http://eol.org/data_objects/24891510[9]

Ginger Flower vs - WikiMedia Commons - Venkatx5.jpg
Ginger Flower (Zingiber officinale)
Source: WikiMedia Commons (Venkatx5)[10]

Microscopic Characteristics

Under the microscope it exhibits numerous starch grains varying greatly in form and size in the different varieties, being nearly spherical, ovoid, ellipsoidal or pear-shaped and frequently with a characteristic beak, usually -from 0.005 to 0.04 mm., occasionally from 0.045 to 0.06 mm. in the long diameter; sclerenchymatous fibers long, thin-walled, nonlignified, with oblique pores and distinctly undulate on one side; oil secretion cells with suberized walls and containing a light yellowish or yellowish-brown, oily substance; cork cells absent in the Jamaica variety.

Source: United States Dispensatory (1918) [11]

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Ellipsoidal and irregular starch granules showing one constricted end observed at 400x with Acidified Chloral Hydrate Glycerol Solution.
Source: Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories[12]

Fiber showing oblique pores when observed at 400x with Acidified Chloral Hydrate Glycerol Solution.
Source: Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories[13]

High Performance Thin Layer Chromatographic Identification

Zingiber officinale (rhizome) HPTLC ID - Anisaldehyde reagent, white RT

Ginger (rhizome) (Zingiber officinale)

Lane Assignments Lanes, from left to right (Track, Volume, Sample):

  1. 2 μL 6-Gingerol
  2. 2 μL 8-Gingerol
  3. 2 μL 10-Gingerol
  4. 2 μL 6-Shogaol
  5. 2 μL Ginger rhizome 1
  6. 2 μL Ginger rhizome 2
  7. 2 μL Ginger rhizome 3
  8. 2 μL Ginger rhizome 4
  9. 2 μL Ginger rhizome 5
  10. 2 μL Ginger rhizome 6
  11. 2 μL Ginger rhizome 7
  12. 2 μL Lesser galangal rhizome
  13. 2 μL Kaempferia galangal rhizome
  14. 2 μL Sharp-leaf galangal fruit
  15. 2 μL Katsumada galangal semen (Alpinia katsumadai

Reference Sample(s) Reference: Individually dissolve 0.5 mg each of 6-gingerol and 6-shogaol in 1 mL of methanol. Optional: individually dissolve 0.5 mg each of 8-gingerol and 10-gingerol in 1 mL of methanol. 

Stationary Phase Stationary phase, i.e. Silica gel 60, F254 

Mobile Phase Ethyl acetate, formic acid, water 88:6:6 (v/v/v) 

Sample Preparation Method Sample: Mix 1 g of powdered sample with 10 mL of methanol and sonicate for 10 minutes, then centrifuge or filter the solutions and use the supernatants / filtrates as test solutions.

Derivatization reagent: Anisaldehyde reagent Preparation: 170 mL of ice-cooled methanol are mixed with 20 mL of acetic acid, 10 mL of sulfuric acid, and 1 mL of anisaldehyde. Use: Dip (time 0, speed 5), heat at 100C for 3 min. 

Detection Method Saturated chamber; developing distance 70 mm from lower edge; relative humidity 33% 

Reference see USP Dietary Supplements Compendium 2009-2010 (for additional documentation) 

Other Notes Images presented in this entry are examples and are not intended to be used as basis for setting specifications for quality control purposes.

System suitability test: 6-Gingerol: violet zone at Rf ~ 0.24 6-Shogaol: violet zone at Rf ~ 0.53

Identification: Compare result with reference images. The fingerprint of the test solution is similar to that of the corresponding botanical reference sample. Additional weak zones may be present. Under white light the chromatogram of the test solution shows three violet zones at Rf ~ 0.24, Rf ~ 0.27, and Rf ~ 0.29 corresponding to reference substance 6-gingerol, 8-gingerol and 10-gingerol. A violet zone at Rf ~0.53 corresponding to 6-shogaol is present. Below the zone due to 6-gingerol there are several weak violet zones. Between 10-gingerol and 6-shogaol other weak zones are visible. A violet zone at Rf ~ 0.80 may be present.

Test for adulteration: Under UV 366 nm no green or blue fluorescent zones are seen at Rf ~ 0.22 and 0.34 (Lesser galangal rhizome). No green fluorescent zone is seen at Rf ~ 0.51 (Sharp-leaf galangal fruit). No green or reddish fluorescent zones are seen at Rf ~ 0.07 and 0.20 (Katsumada galangal semen (Alpinia katsumadai)). Under white light no pink zone is seen at Rf ~ 0.64 (Kaempferia galangal rhizome).

Source: HPTLC Association [14]

Supplementary Information


  1. MOBOT, Tropicos.org http://www.tropicos.org/Image/36467
  2. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. http://specimens.kew.org/herbarium/K001124208
  3. United States Dispensatory (1918)
  4. United States Dispensatory (1918)
  5. MOBOT, Tropicos.org http://www.tropicos.org/Image/36460
  6. Köhler, Medizinal-Pflanzen in naturgetreuen Abbildungen und kurzerläuterndemTexte (1887) http://caliban.mpiz-koeln.mpg.de/koehler/INGWER.jpg
  7. PlantaPhile http://plantaphile.com/
  8. WikiMedia Commons (Dalgial) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zingiber_officinale.JPG
  9. Encyclopedia of Life http://eol.org/data_objects/24891510 http://eol.org/data_objects/24891510
  10. WikiMedia Commons (Venkatx5) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ginger_Flower_vs.jpg
  11. United States Dispensatory (1918)
  12. Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories http://www.alkemist.com
  13. Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories http://www.alkemist.com
  14. HPTLC Association http://www.hptlc-association.org/
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