Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) is actually not a root, but a rhizome, or underground stem. The rhizome is the part that can be eaten, used in food or teas, dried and ground to create powdered ginger and used to create ginger oils and extracts.
Ginger is a rhizome, meaning that it sprouts roots and leaves from an underground stem. It is planted by taking a piece of ginger "root" and letting it grow in soil for about a year.
Flowers and Leaves
Ginger plants produce fragrant leaves and flowers which are sometimes used as ornamental plants. The leaves and flowers are not toxic, but are not commonly eaten.
Fresh Ginger Root
Fresh ginger root can be sliced, grated, or minced to use in cooking, such as stir fries, tea and muffins. It can also be crystallized (soaked in sugar syrup) to create ginger candy.
Ginger can also be dried and ground to produce powdered ginger, which is more convenient for cooking but does not have the same sharp, spicy flavor as fresh ginger.
Ginger root can also be used to create extracts or oils for medicinal uses, primarily for the treatment of nausea.