Description: Perennial, rhizomatous herbs.
Leaves distichous (rarely spiral), with a long, sheathing base and a stalked or sessile lamina; usually with a membranous ligule at the upper margin of the sheath.
Inflorescences terminal on leafy shoots or on specialized floral shoots, a thyrse or spike. Flowers zygomorphic, 3-merous, bisexual. Tepals 6, in 2 whorls; outer tepals mostly sepaloid, green, fused into a tube with 2 or 3 lobes; inner tepals fused at base with 3 petaloid lobes, often unequal with the upper longer than the 2 laterals. Staminal whorls usually 2; the outer either reduced or absent, or of 2 lateral petaloid staminodes, the inner of a single fertile stamen opposite an entire or lobed labellum (formed from 2 fused petaloid staminodes). Ovary inferior, 3-locular or occasionally 1-locular; ovules many.
Fruit a capsule or fleshy berry; seeds arillate.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 40 genera, c. 1000 species, mainly Asian trops. Australia: 10 genera, 17 species, Qld, N.S.W., N.T.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Zingiberaceae, Order: Zingiberales)
The family is of some economic importance in the production of a number of spices and condiments, e.g., Ginger, Turmeric, Cardamon and Indian Arrowroot.
Text by Peter G. Wilson & S. M. Hastings
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Inflorescence axis branched; stamen not exserted; lateral staminodes reduced to small teeth or absent||Alpinia|
|Inflorescence axis apparently unbranched; stamen exserted; lateral staminodes petaloid||Hedychium|