FAMILY OF THE WEEK : ZINGIBERACEAEA
family of 45 genera and 750 species distributed in the tropical regions
chiefly Indo Malaysia. In India there are 17 genera and 112 species
occurring in Eastern Himalayas and Western ghats.
Vegetative characters:They are perennial herbs with creeping, horizontal or tuberous rhizomes. The plants are usually aromatic.
aerial stem when present is short and leafy or scapose and bearing only
flowers as in Curcuma and Zingiber. The leaves are basal or cauline and
are in two rows. They have a sheathing base and a petiole may or may
not present between sheath and blade. The blade is linear to elliptical often large with numerous closely parallel and pinnate
veins diverging obliquely from the midrib. A characteristic ligule is
present at the junction of the petiole and blade.
Inflorescence and flowers:The
inflorescence is either terminal on the leafy shoot or on a scale leaf
bearing scape(Curcuma) or produced directly from the rootstock at the
base of the stem(Amomum).It is a spike (Curcuma) or a dense
head(Costus) or panicle.Sometimes the flowers are solitary as in
are bracteate and the bracts are often coloured and distichous or
spirally arranged. They are mostly bisexual, zygomorphic or
actinomorphic, trimerous and epigynous. The perianth is of six members
in two trimerous whorls. It is differentiated into an outer calyx and
and an inner corolla. The three sepals are united into a tube. The odd
sepal is anterior. The petals are also more or less united and the
three segments are similar or dissimilar and then the posterior segment
is usually the largest and covers the edges of lateral segments. The
petals are often very showy and delicate. The androecium is of six
stamens in two trimerous whorls. The anterior stamen of the outer whorl
is always absent while the other two are represented by large and leafy
staminodes. The posterior stamen of the inner whorl and the other two
are united to form a petaloid labellum which embraces the fertile
stamen and is often the most conspicuous part of the flower. The
fertile stamen and the staminodes are inserted on the mouth of the
corolla tube. The fertile stamen has a slender and deeply grooved
filament and a dithecous anther dehiscing vertically. The gynoecium is
tricarpellary and syncarpous. The ovary is inferior and trilocular.The
style is simple and terminal and is more or less enevoloped in the
groove of the filament of the fertile stamen. Sometimes the style is
two lipped or dentate. The stigma is simple or capitate. A pair of nectar secreting epigynous glands are often present.
Fruits and seeds:The
fruit is usually a loculicidal capsule. The seeds are rounded or
angular with copious hard or mealy endosperm and straight embryo.
Pollination and dispersal:The showy flowers favour insect pollination. The fruits are distributed by animals.
Examples:Zingiber officinale (Ginger, adrak, Ale)
CurcumaCurcuma longa L. (Turmeric,Haldi)Curcuma angustifolia Roxb.(East Indian arrowroot, Tikhur)
Curcuma neilgherrensisAmomum cardamomum (Cardamum,Choti Elayachi)Elettaria cardamomum (Cardamon, Elaychi)