Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Zingiber montanum
(cassumunar ginger)



Zingiber montanum (cassumunar ginger)


  • Last modified
  • 16 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Zingiber montanum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • cassumunar ginger
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Z. montanum is listed in the Global Compendium of Weeds as a naturalized cultivation escape and weed (Randall, 2012...

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Zingiber montanum (J.Koenig) Link ex A.Dietr.

Preferred Common Name

  • cassumunar ginger

Other Scientific Names

  • Amomum cassumunar (Roxb.) Donn
  • Amomum montanum Koenig
  • Amomum xanthorhiza Roxb. ex Steud.
  • Cassumunar roxburghii Colla
  • Costus cassumunar sensu Bello
  • Jaegera montana (J. Koenig) Giseke
  • Zingiber anthorrhiza Horan.
  • Zingiber cassumunar Roxb.
  • Zingiber cassumunar var. palamauense Haines
  • Zingiber cassumunar var. subglabrum Thwaites
  • Zingiber cliffordiae Andrews
  • Zingiber luridum Salisb.
  • Zingiber purpureum Roscoe
  • Zingiber purpureum var. palamauense (Haines) K.K. Khanna
  • Zingiber xantorrhizon Steud.

International Common Names

  • English: Bengal ginger; Bengal root; Thai ginger
  • Spanish: jengibre
  • French: gingembre marron

Local Common Names

  • Bangladesh: bon ada
  • Cuba: jengibre amargo
  • Dominican Republic: jengibre amargo; jengibre cimarron
  • Germany: Blockzitwer; Gelber Zitwer; Zitwer, Block-
  • India: jangliadrak
  • Indonesia: banglai; bang-lai; bengle; panglay
  • Malaysia: bangle; bolai; bunglai; lampoyang
  • Puerto Rico: jengibre Colorado
  • Thailand: blae kobor; phlai; plai; puloei; wanfai; wan-fai

EPPO code

  • ZINCS (Zingiber cassumunar)

Summary of Invasiveness

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Z. montanum is listed in the Global Compendium of Weeds as a naturalized cultivation escape and weed (Randall, 2012). The species is probably native to India and is widely cultivated in Southeast Asia for medicinal uses (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2005). It is also used as a substitute for and an adulterant of Zingiber officinale in the global ginger spice trade (Jiang et al., 2006). Like other members of the Zingiber genus, Z. montanum easily spreads by seeds and rhizome division and thrives in moist habitats (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2005). It is listed as ‘moderately invasive’ in northeastern Bangladesh, based on a 2010 forest undergrowth vegetation survey undertaken in a protected national park (Rahman et al., 2010), and is considered a naturalized weed and cultivation escape in Puerto Rico and the Greater Antilles (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2005; Randall, 2012).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Zingiberales
  •                         Family: Zingiberaceae
  •                             Genus: Zingiber
  •                                 Species: Zingiber montanum

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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As the largest family in the Zingiberales, Zingiberaceae, the ‘ginger’ family, includes approximately 53 genera and over 1200 species distributed in all tropical regions of the world, with highest concentration in Southeast Asia (Kress et al., 2014). Members of the ginger family are perennial herbs, mostly with creeping horizontal or tuberous rhizomes, generally aromatic and rich in starch (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2005). The distinguishing features of all gingers are the fusion of two sterile stamens into a labellum and cells containing essential or ethereal oils (Kress et al., 2014). Many gingers are cultivated as ornamental and economically important spice plants, notably ‘true’ ginger (Zingiber), turmeric (Curcuma), and cardamom (Amomum): Wagner et al. (1999).   

The genus Zingiber (nom. et orth. conserv.)  was first named Zinziber in 1754 by Miller and amended to the current spelling Zingiber some six years later by German botanist Georg Boehmer (Branney, 2005). The name Zingiber may have originated from the Arabic word zanzabil and later the Sanskrit word singabera (‘horn-root’) in reference to the rhizomes, which gave rise to the classical Greek name zingiberi and finally zingiber in Latin (Larsen et al., 1999). 

Zingiber purpureum Roscoe or Zingiber cassumunar Roxb. have long been considered to be different species from Z. montanum (Koenig) Dietrich. However, Z. montanum is based on Amomum montanum Koenig, a name for which, for a long time, only a description existed. When type material of A. montanum was rediscovered, it was evident that the 3 taxa are the same species (Wolff et al., 1999). 

Z. montanum is almost morphologically identical to Zingiber zerumbet. The two are almost impossible for classical taxonomists to differentiate between in the non-flowering stage, and DNA fingerprinting is often required (Ghosh et al., 2011). 

**NOTE: In CABI’s CPC Zingiber page, this section identifies Z. purpureum Roscoe /Z. cassumunar Roxb. as different species from Z. montanum (Koenig) Dietrich. The species are considered the same according to The Plant List (2013), which is the authority this record is following.


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The following description is taken from Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2005: Rhizomes internally pale carrot colour. Pseudostems 1.2-1.8 m tall. Leaves sessile or short-petiolate; sheaths glabrous or pubescent along edges, green; ligule 2-10 mm long, sparsely pubescent, bi-lobed; blades linear to linearlanceolate or broadly lanceolate, 13-35 (-60) × 2-4 (-8) cm, hirsute adaxially, acuminate at apex, narrowly cuneate at base. Inflorescence fusiform or cylindric-ovate, 8-15 × 3-4 cm, acute at apex, the shoot (scape) erect, 8-60 cm tall with 5-7 cataphylls; mature bracts ovate, obtuse to broadly so at apex, 3-3.5 × 1-1.7 cm, pubescent, with a subscarious, greenish, black-lineolate margin, red or purplish brown; bracteoles ovate, 1-1.5 cm long, 3-dentate. Calyx 1.2-1.5 cm long, membranous, truncate, unilaterally split, white, glabrous; corolla 4-6 cm long, the lobes linear-lanceolate, pale yellow to white, reddish lineolate on margins; labellum 6 cm long and 2.5 cm wide, white or pale yellow, the central lobe broadly rounded, the lateral lobes oblong, free nearly to base. Stamen ca. 1 cm long; ovary 3-4 mm long, pubescent. Capsule ovoid, ca. 1.5 cm diameter.

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated


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Z. montanum is considered native to Southeast Asia and has been widely cultivated across tropical Asia for food flavouring, often as a substitute for Z. officinale, and for a variety of medicinal uses (Wolff et al., 1999; Jiang et al., 2006, USDA-ARS, 2013). 

The species is considered native to Vietnam in Wiart (2012) but naturalized according to the Kew World Checklist (Govaerts, 2013). In Borneo, it is listed as naturalized in the Kew World Checklist (Govaerts, 2013), whereas USDA-ARS (2013) lists the species as native. 

Z. montanum was claimed to be introduced to England by Roxbourgh in 1810 (Sims 1812), but Pereira and Carson claimed it had been introduced far earlier by Pechey in 1672 (Pereira and Carson, 1852).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


BangladeshPresentNative Invasive Chowdhury and Ullah, 1995; Rahman et al., 2010; Govaerts, 2013Moderately invasive in northern Bangladesh and considered a wild crop
Brunei DarussalamPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2013Naturalised
CambodiaPresentNativeGovaerts, 2013
ChinaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedSeidemann, 2005Cultivated for medicinal use; no other data reported
IndiaPresentNativeGovaerts, 2013Arunachal Pradesh to East India and Myanmar
-Arunachal PradeshPresentNativeGhosh et al., 2011; Govaerts, 2013
-AssamPresentNativeGhosh et al., 2011
-MeghalayaPresentNativeGhosh et al., 2011
-SikkimPresentNativeGovaerts, 2013
-West BengalPresentNativeGovaerts, 2013
IndonesiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-JavaPresentIntroducedWolff et al., 1999; Ravindran and Babu, 2005
-KalimantanPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2013Naturalised. Borneo I. (North, West, South, East and Central Kalimantan)
LaosPresentNativeWiart, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2013
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2013Naturalised
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2013Naturalised
-SabahPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2013Naturalised
-SarawakPresentGovaerts, 2013; USDA-ARS, 2013Naturalised according to Govaerts (2013) but native acc. to USDA-ARS
MyanmarPresentNativeGovaerts, 2013
NepalPresentNativeBranney, 2005
PhilippinesPresentIntroducedQuisumbing, 1978; Cantoria, 1986; Govaerts, 2013Naturalised
Sri LankaPresentNativeGovaerts, 2013
ThailandPresentNativeBranney, 2005; Govaerts, 2013Naturalised
VietnamPresentWiart, 2012; Govaerts, 2013Native (Wiart, 2012), but naturalised acc. to Govaerts, 2013

North America

USAPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedRavindran and Babu, 2005Cultivated in gardens; no further data

Central America and Caribbean

CubaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
HaitiPresentSmithsonian Herbarium Collection
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; Govaerts, 2013Naturalised


UKPresentIntroduced1672 or 1810Sims, 1812; Pereira and Carson, 1852

History of Introduction and Spread

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Z. montanum (syn. Z. cassumunar) is native to Southeast Asia and was introduced to Europe and the neo-tropics, where it has naturalized in many places. William Roscoe described the species in 1807 as Zingiber purpureum, but the same name had already been given to another plant by Roxburgh (Branney, 2005). Roxburgh separately named this plant Zingiber cassumunar in 1810 and was credited with introducing the species to England around then, though it was Marloe who introduced the plant into European medical practice “as a medicine of uncommon efficacy in hysterick, epileptic, and paralytick disorders” (Sims, 1812). In 1854, however, Pereira claimed the species had already been introduced to England much earlier in 1672 via the East India Trading Company for the purpose of medicinal use (Pereira and Carson, 1854). The species was listed, as Zingiber cassumunar, for its medicinal uses in an 1884 compilation of American, British, French and German medicines (Stille´ and Maisch, 1884). 

The year of introduction for Z. montanum to the Caribbean is uncertain, but it was present in Haiti by 1926 (US Herbarium Collection) and in Puerto Rico by 1934 where it appears in an unpublished popular flora of Puerto Rico by NL Britton (1918-1934). The species naturalized after escaping from cultivation in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Hispaniola, and is cultivated across the tropics (Liogier and Martorell, 2000). Z. montanum was already common in Malaysia by 1897, where it was reported (as Z. cassumunar) by H.N. Ridley to be “often seen near villages, the rhizomes of which are used in medicine and as spice” (Ridley, 1897).

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of introduction for Z. montanum is low but not insignificant, as cultivation escape and deliberate introduction could help the naturalized population to spread. Increased cultivation may occur in light of increasing evidence of its medicinal qualities (Wolff et al., 1999; Branney, 2005; Jiang et al., 2006; Tewtrakul and Subhadhirasakul, 2007), as well as its value for spice and food flavouring, and as a substitute for or adulterant of the Z. officinale ginger trade supply (Jiang et al., 2006).


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Zingiber is commonly found in moist, partially shaded evergreen and monsoon forests on soils rich in organic matter, but also in secondary forests, open habitats at forest edges, disturbed sites and bamboo thickets on rocky soils at altitudes up to 3000 m. In Java, Z. montanum is found up to 1300 m (Wolff et al., 1999). As the species is also grown for its medicinal and food value, it also occurs in managed areas. In Puerto Rico, Z. montanum is a naturalized weed in moist second-growth forest in limestone hills, at altitudes around 200-250 m (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2005). In India, it commonly grows well in wetland habitats and in moist and shady forest areas under physiologically stressed conditions (Chirangini and Sharma, 2005).

Habitat List

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Rocky shores Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial – ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Natural
Rocky areas / lava flows Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rocky areas / lava flows Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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The chromosome number for Z. montanum is 2n=22 (Raghavan and Venkatasubban, 1943; Singh and Jauhar, 2005). 

Environmental Requirements

Z. montanum is rarely found in dry zones and will succeed in mild, temperate conditions, growing most commonly in humid forest shade from low to middle elevation forests with warm temperatures and high precipitation regimes. It performs best in partially shaded areas with moist, humus-rich soil. Z. montanum is better adapted for temperate conditions than many other gingers, as it is naturally winter dormant in the wild. Like other members of the Zingiber genus, Z. montanum requires a free-draining medium in winter. Zingiber species are commonly found in moist, partially shaded evergreen and monsoon forests on soils rich in organic matter, but are also adapted to grow in secondary forests, open habitats at forest edges, disturbed sites and bamboo thickets on rocky soils, at altitudes up to 3000 m. In Java, Z. montanum is found up to 1300 m (Cantoria, 1986; Huxley et al., 1992; Wolff et al., 1999; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2005; Branney, 2005).


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Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -10

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil texture

  • medium

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Stored rhizomes of Z. montanum are susceptible to rotting. The incorporation of antibiotics is essential to suppress microbial contamination (Ravindran and Babu, 2005). For the Zingiber species, Udaspes sp. and Kerranadiocles sp. are reported as diseases but can be controlled with fungicides. Zingiber is attacked by several insect pests, including Tribolium sp., which bores into the stem, and Agrotis ipsilon grubs attacking the underground organs (Wolff et al., 1999).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Z. montanum spreads by seeds and by rhizome division (Wolff et al., 1999). Vegetative propagation rate through rhizomes is slow, however, yielding only 4-6 plants per rhizome each year (Chirangini and Sharma, 2005). Dispersal by humans is primarily through cultivation, resulting in both intentional and accidental introductions, through the spice/food/medicine trade, as well as by water, as the species thrives in wetland habitats.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Breeding and propagation Yes Yes Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2005; Chirangini and Sharma, 2005; Ravindran and Babu, 2005; Wolff et al., 1999
Crop productionWidely cultivated for various medicinal purposes and as flavouring agent in food preprations Yes Yes Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2005; Ravindran and Babu, 2005; Wolff et al., 1999
Medicinal use Yes Yes Chirangini and Sharma, 2005; Ravindran and Babu, 2005; Wolff et al., 1999

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesWidely cultivated for various medicinal purposes and as flavouring agent in food preparations Yes Yes Chirangini and Sharma, 2005; Ravindran and Babu, 2005; Wolff et al., 1999
Machinery and equipment Yes Yes
Soil, sand and gravel Yes Yes
WaterHabitat includes riverbanks, streams and wetlands Yes Yes Chirangini and Sharma, 2005; Ravindran and Babu, 2005; Wolff et al., 1999

Economic Impact

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According to Jiang et al. (2006), the close phylogenic affinity of Z. montanum to the lucrative ‘true’ ginger, Zingiber officinale, has resulted in its use as an adulterant/contaminant to the Z. officinale food/medicinal herb trade, and recent studies have shown new medicinal potential for the species which could lead to positive economic impact (Branney, 2005). Therefore, although the role of this Zingiber species as a spice is likely to remain limited compared with that of Z. officinale, commercial production may continue to rise due to increased interest worldwide, and especially in Southeast Asia, for traditional medicines and cosmetics. The identification of active components in different plant parts, especially the rhizome, of both Z. montanum and Z. zerumbet may spur this increase in research and production (Wolff et al., 1999). Furthermore, emerging research on the insecticidal and fungicidal activity of Z. montanum rhizome extracts may cause further economic interest in the species.

Environmental Impact

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Z. montanum is listed as ‘moderately invasive’ in northeastern Bangladesh, based on a 2010 forest undergrowth vegetation survey undertaken in a protected national park (Rahman et al., 2010), with the potential to compete for space and resources and thus negatively impact local and native biodiversity. In Puerto Rico and the Greater Antilles, Z. montanum is considered a naturalized weed and cultivation escape (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2005, Randall, 2012).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Monoculture formation
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field


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The following is taken from Wolff et al., 1999: The rhizomes of Z. montanum are valued for their aroma and taste. The odour has been described as strong and reminiscent of a mixture of ginger, camphor and turmeric, the taste as hot and camphorous. However, the rhizomes have also been reported to have a bitter and unpleasant taste. Dried rhizomes of Z. montanum yield 0.5% essential oil on steam distillation. The main constituent, terpinen-4-ol, is widely used in perfumery in artificial geranium, pepper, rose and other oils, (soap) perfumes and flavour compositions. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity of Z. montanum rhizomes has been linked to the presence of curcuminoids. The anti-inflammatory as well as the analgesic and antipyretic effects have also been related to the presence of phenylbutenoids. The phenylbutenoid (E)-4-(3',4'-dimethoxyphenyl)-but-3-en-1-ol has shown relaxant effects on isolated rat uteri. Methanolic extracts of the rhizomes of Z. montanum and Zingiber zerumbet have shown cholagogic effects in anaesthetized rats.

Z. montanum is used throughout tropical Asia for medicinal purposes, primarily as a carminative and stimulant for the stomach, and against diarrhoea and colic. In Indonesia, the pounded rhizome is used as a poultice against headache, and in a variety of medicinal mixtures. The rhizome is administered internally as a vermifuge in Malaysia and for postpartum medication, while in Laos, it is applied against abscesses, fever, colic, diarrhoea and other intestinal disorders, a depurative, as well as a poison antidote. In Thailand, the species is the prime ingredient in massage oil to relieve muscle pain, and the rhizomes are taken against asthma (Wolff et al., 1999; Anasamy et al., 2013). In Northeast India, oral consumption of the rhizome paste was reported to treat dyspepsia and stomach bloating (Anasamy et al., 2013). 

Additionally, Z. montanum has been shown to exhibit pesticidal and fungicidal activity. The rhizomes of Z. montanum contain essential oils including terpinen-4-ol, which has been found to be effective against a range of pathogenic bacteria including Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Salmonella paratyphi, S. typhi and Shigella flexneri. Zerumbone, another essential oil of the rhizome, has demonstrated antifungal activity against Thanetophorus cucumeris. Insecticidal activity in bioassays of the rhizome extracts were found against brown dog ticks (Rhipicephalus sanguineus), as well as against Spodoptera littoralis larvae due to the presence of phenylbutanoids. Additionally, rhizome extracts have shown in vitro anthelmintic activity against Ascaridia galli (Wolff et al., 1999; Phonsena et al., 2006).

Uses List

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Drugs, stimulants, social uses

  • Stimulants

Genetic importance

  • Related to

Human food and beverage

  • Food additive
  • Spices and culinary herbs


  • Essential oils
  • Pesticide

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Detection and Inspection

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It is difficult to distinguish Z.montanum from other common gingers at ports of entry. Both Z. montanum and Z. zerumbet are similar morphologically and in medicinal use to the type ginger, Z. officinale, and both are known contaminants in the global ginger trade (Chavan et al., 2008).

Accurate detection involves laboratory tests. Methods of identifying Z. officinale include macroscopy, microscopy, and chemoprofiling, but these are limited in their ability to distinguish between closely related species (Chavan et al., 2008). 

Several species-specific DNA marker tests have been developed in recent years to identify Zingiber species. These include SCAR (sequence-characterized amplified region) markers (Chavan et al., 2008) and AFLP (amplified fragment length polymorphism) markers (Ghosh et al., 2011). Chavan et al. (2008) developed SCAR markers by first amplifying DNA fragments using RAPD analysis, a technique useful in differentiating closely related species. While the study found a SCAR marker to distinguish Z. officinale from all other Zingiber species, Chavan et al. did not report any findings of SCAR markers distinguishing Z. montanum from Z. zerumbet. This was, however, achieved by Ghosh et al. (2011) using the AFLP method, which literature shows to be a very important method in plant taxonomy for species-specific identification, and allows precision by characterizing DNA under stringent experimental conditions. Jiang et al. (2006) developed a metabolic profiling method which was also shown to be an effective method of identifying Z. montanum.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Zingiber purpureum Roscoe or Zingiber cassumunar Roxb. have long been considered to be different species from Z. montanum (Koenig) Dietrich. However, Z. montanum is based on Amomum montanum Koenig, a name for which, for a long time, only a description existed. When type material of A. montanum was rediscovered, it became evident that the 3 taxa are the same species (Wolff et al., 1999). 

Regarding other members of the Zingiber genus, Z. montanum is closely related to Z. officinale and Z. zerumbet, and is sometimes used as a substitute or adulterant of Z. officinale. The rhizomes of Z. montanum are usually larger than those of Zingiber officinale. In the Philippines Z. montanum was previously thought to be a variety of Z. zerumbet but was distinguished mainly by the size of the ligule: Z. zerumbet has a prominent ligule about 1.5 to 3.5 cm long, while Z. montanum has an inconspicuous ligule about 1 mm long (Cantoria, 1986). Z. montanum can be also be distinguished from Z. zerumbet during the flowering stage. While the bracts of Z. zerumbet’s inflorescences are bright red, Z. montanum has a larger (largest in Malesia), orange inflorescence with incurved bracts forming open pouches (Wolff et al., 1999). However, the two species are almost identical and impossible to differentiate during the non-flowering stage, even by classical taxonomists, and DNA fingerprinting techniques are often necessary (Ghosh et al., 2011).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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More research is needed on Z. montanum‘s invasiveness both in its native range of Southeast Asia and throughout the Tropics in order to better gauge the risk of introduction and spread of the species, especially in light of the mounting evidence of its medicinal values and potential for further cultivation and trade. Based on the existing literature, Z. montanum exhibits low risk of invasiveness. The species’ presence should continue to be monitored within each country it occurs in, as other members of the Zingiber genus are listed as invasive and potentially harmful to biodiversity and native flora.


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Acevedo-Rodríguez P; Strong MT, 2005. Monocots and Gymnosperms of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Contributions from the United States National Herbarium, 52:1-416.

Acevedo-Rodríguez P; Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, 98:1192 pp. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution.

Anasamy T; Abdul AB; Sukari MA; Abdelwahab SI; Mohan S; Kamalidehghan B; Azid MZ, 2013. A Phenylbutenoid Dimer, cis-3-(3',4'-Dimethoxyphenyl)-4-[(E)-3''',4'''-Dimethoxystyryl] Cyclohex-1-ene, Exhibits Apoptogenic Properties in T-Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Cells via Induction of p53-Independent Mitochondrial Signalling Pathway. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: ECAM:939810.

Branney TME, 2005. Hardy gingers: including Hedychium, Roscoea, and Zingiber [ed. by Branney, T. M. E.]. Portland, USA: Timber Press, 267 pp.

Britton NL, 1918-1934. Watercolor of Zingiber cassumunar from Nathaniel Lord Britton's unpublished popular flora of Puerto Rico, Flora Borinqueña. New York, USA: The LuEsther T. Mertz Library.

Cantoria MC, 1986. The Identification of Zingiber purpureum Rosc. Transactions of the National Academy of Science and Technology, Republic of the Philippines, 8(July):139-150.

Chavan P; Warude D; Joshi K; Patwardhan B, 2008. Development of SCAR (sequence-characterized amplified region) markers as a complementary tool for identification of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) from crude drugs and multicomponent formulations. Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry, 50(1):61-69.

Chirangini P; Sharma GJ, 2005. In vitro propagation and microrhizome induction in Zingiber cassumunar (Roxb.) - an antioxidant-rich medicinal plant. Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment, 3(1):139-142. HTTP://

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DeFilipps RA; Maina SL; Crepin J, 2004. Medicinal Plants of the Guianas (Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana).

Ghosh S; Majumder PB; Sen Mandi S, 2011. Species-specific AFLP markers for identification of Zingiber officinale, Z. montanum and Z. zerumbet (Zingiberaceae). Genetics and Molecular Research, 10(1):218-229.

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Links to Websites

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Catalogue of Seed Plants of the West Indies
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
Smithsonian Zingiberales Research


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06/3/2014 Original text by:

Marianne Jennifer Datiles, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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