ginger the name of the plant Zingiber officinale, and of its rhizomes. These are mainly consumed in the fresh (‘green’) state in the countries where they grow, but are also dried to provide an important spice; preserved with sugar to constitute a sweetmeat; and processed to yield an oil used for flavouring.
The ginger plant is unknown in the wild state, but is thought to have originated in SE Asia. It has been cultivated since ancient times, and was among the most highly prized of the eastern imports to the Roman Empire. However, Romans used it relatively little in cookery, prizing it rather for medicinal purposes.