Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is native to southeast Asia, but today is grown in the US, India, China, the West Indies, and various other tropical regions. Ginger root can grow to about four feet high and produces white or yellow flowers.
Ginger has an ancient history and has been used in the West for at least 3,000 years. It was used extensively by the Greeks and Romans. In the 11th century CE it was a staple trade item from the East to Europe. Medieval Europe thought it came from the Garden of Eden.
Early American settlers and Jamaicans made beef from it. Today it is used in ginger ales made with fresh ginger, not to be confused with most commercial branded soft drinks, that contain very little ginger.