aMeans separated by Duncan's multiple range test (P — 0.05) Source: Baranowski (1986).

aMeans separated by Duncan's multiple range test (P — 0.05) Source: Baranowski (1986).

Genetic Resources

The history of domestication of ginger is not definitely known. However, this crop is known to have been under cultivation and use in India and China for the last 2,000 years or even more. China is probably the region where domestication had started, but little is known about the center of origin, although the largest variability exists in China. Southwestern India, known as the Malabar Coast in ancient times, traded ginger with the Western World from ancient times, indicating its cultivation. This long period of domestication might have played a major role in the evolution of this crop that is sterile and propagated solely vegetatively. Ginger has rich cultivar diversity, and most major growing tracts have cultivars that are specific to the area; and these cultivars are mostly known by place names. Cultivar diversity is richest in China. In India the diversity is more in the state of Kerala and in the northeastern region of India. Being clonally propagated, the population structure of this species is determined mainly by the presence of isolation mechanisms and the divergence that might have resulted through the accumulation of random mutations. At present, more than 50 ginger cultivars possessing varying quality attributes and yield potential are being cultivated in India, although the spread of a few improved and high-yielding ones are causing the disappearance of the traditional land races. The cultivars popularly grown (cultivar diversity) in the various ginger-growing states in India are given in Table 2.14. Some of these cultivars were introduced into India, and the cultivar Rio de Janeiro, an introduction from Brazil, has become very popular in Kerala. Introductions such as China, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, and Taffin Giwa, are also grown occasionally.

Among the ginger-growing countries, China has the richest cultivar diversity. The important cultivars grown in China are given in Table 2.15. Less important ones are Zaoyang of Hubei province, Zunji big white ginger of Giuzhou, Chenggu yellow ginger of Shaxi, Yulin round fleshy ginger of Guangxi, Bamboo root ginger and Mian yang ginger of Sichuan, Xuanchang ginger of Ahuii, Yuxi yellow ginger of Yunnan, and Taiwan fleshy ginger. Many of these cultivars have unique morphological markers for identification.

In general, the cultivar variability is much less in other ginger-growing countries. Tindall (1968) reported that there were two main types of ginger grown in West Africa. These differ in color of the rhizome, one with a purplish red or blue tissue below the outer scaly skin, whereas the other has a yellowish white flesh. Graham (1936) reported that there were five kinds of ginger recognized in Jamaica known as St. Mary, Red eye, Blue Tumeric, Bull blue, and China blue. But Lawrence (1984) reported that only one cultivar is grown widely in Jamaica. According to Ridley (1915), three forms of ginger were known in Malaysia in earlier days: halyia betel (true ginger), halyia bara, or padi, a smaller leaved ginger with a yellowish rhizome used only in medicine; and halyia udang, red ginger having red color at the base of the aerial shoot. A red variety of ginger, Z. officinale var. rubra (also called pink ginger), has been described from Malaysia, in which the rhizome skin has a reddish color. A variety "withered skin" also has been reported. In Philippines two cultivars are known, the native and the Hawaiian (Rosales, 1938). In Nigeria the cv. Taffin Giwa (Bold, yellow ginger) is the common one, the other being Yasun Bari, the black ginger.

In Japan the ginger types are classified into three groups: (1) small-sized plants with many tillers and a small rhizome, (2) medium-sized plants with an intermediate number of tillers and a medium-sized rhizome, and (3) large-sized plants with fewer tillers and larger rhizomes. The common cultivars included in these groups are Kintoki, Sanshu, and Oshoga, respectively. A stabilized tetraploid line of Sanshu (4x Sanshu) is also being cultivated in Japan (Adaniya, 2001). In addition, Z. mioga (Japanese ginger) is also grown in Japan for spice and vegetable purposes. In Queensland, Australia, ginger was an important crop in earlier times. The ginger cultivars might have been introduced there, although the exact source is not known. The local cultivar, known as Buderim local, is the most commonly grown. Australia earlier introduced cultivars from Japan, Hawaii,

Table 2.14 Major ginger-growing states in India and their popular cultivars indicating the diversity in ginger


Cultivar name

Specific trait/character



Himachal Pradesh




Andhra Pradesh

Rio de Janeiro (32.55 t/ha—fresh) Burdwan, Jamaica

Nadia (28.55 t/ha—fresh) & 6.54 t/ha—dry), Maran, Bajpai, and Narasapattam

Rio de Janeiro and Kuruppumpady SG-666

Rio de Janeiro (21.80 t/ha—fresh; 3.27t/ha—dry), Assam (17.23 t/ha—fresh), Maran (3.27 t/ha—dry), and Thingpuri (2.79 t/ha—dry) Thingpuri, Rio de Janeiro, and China IISR-Varada (22.6 t/ha) IISR-Mahima (23.2 t/ha) and IISR-Rejatha (22.4 t/ha)

V2E5-2 (33.83 t/ha), Rio de Janeiro (27.38 t/ha), Ernadan (25.11 t/ha), and Mananthavady (22.94 t/ha) (green ginger)

Himachal Selection, Rio de Janeiro SG-646 and SG-666 Kerala local (3.76 t/ha) and B-1 (3.83 t/ha), Himachal selection (local) (10.9 t/ha) and Kerala local (9.6 t/ha) SG-534 (10.35 t/ha), V1E8-2 (8.92 t/ha), Acc. No. 64 (8.9 t/ha) Nadia (6.7 t/ha) & Chekerella (5.7 t/ha)

Thinladium, Nadia, and Khasi local

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