Ginger Roots Are Rhizomes
Ginger is a plant with large segmented roots that are popular as a spice, especially in Asian cuisine. Ginger has a very strong flavor, which can be overpowering even in small quantities; it's often cooked or pickled to alter or reduce the strength of the flavor. While ginger plants produce shoots that go above ground, the term ginger has become synonymous with the ginger root. The ginger root is a specialized type of underground stem called a rhizome, which allows ginger to reproduce asexually.
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Rhizomes are horizontal plant stems that are often meaty and swollen, and usually grow underground. Thickened portions of rhizomes that store nutrients are known as tubers, though tubers can also be thickened portions of stolons, a structure similar to a rhizome. (Potatoes are tubers formed from stolons, not rhizomes.) Rhizomes of the ginger plant spread underground, producing offshoot plants connected to the root system of the original plant. These new offshoots can bud and send out more rhizomes, creating a large interwoven structure of genetically identical ginger plants. Ginger rhizomes can spread underground to an extent where a single connected piece of ginger can weigh more than 20 pounds.
While planted ginger can spread horizontally through rhizomes, the plant is also commonly propagated by humans. As long as a sufficiently large and healthy piece of a ginger rhizome is split, it will continue to live and create new ginger offshoots when transplanted. Using this method, a single clump of ginger can be used to produce many separate clumps over time. Splitting ginger rhizomes often results in more biomass production over time since several smaller ginger plants have more room to spread than one large plant.