Horseradish vs. Ginger: Are They the Same Plant?

Written by Em Casalena
Published: November 8, 2022
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Which root is superior when making a spicy dish—ginger or horseradish—is the subject of foodie and gardener dispute. Which one ought to be used in your upcoming recipe? Naturally, the solution depends on what you are cooking and your own palate.

Horseradish has a strong flavor, whereas some people like ginger because it has a bit of an edge to it. While their differences in taste are notable (horseradish is spicier, while ginger is better for sweet dishes), there are some key differences in nutrition and overall plant composition worth knowing. This article will assist you in selecting the best plant for your garden as well as which of these two roots to use in your upcoming recipe.

Comparing Horseradish vs. Ginger

Ginger is a rhizome plant while horseradish is a root plant.

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HorseradishGinger
ClassificationArmoracia rusticanaZingiber officinale
Alternative NamesCochlearia armoraciaGinger Root
OriginSoutheast Europe, Western AsiaSoutheast Asia
DescriptionA root vegetable that is part of the Brassicaceae family along with wasabi, cabbage, and radishes.A rhizome plant that is a herbaceous perennial and has yellowish-purple blossoms.
UsesPrimarily used as a spice or condiment due to its root’s spicy flavor.Primarily used as a spice in cuisine, but is also used in folk medicine to help with weight loss, though there is no scientific backing behind that notion. Also used in landscaping.
Growth TipsThis plant does well in temperate climates with rich and loamy soil. Plant in a sunny area.Always plant in partial shade and use a heat-resistant pot (when planting indoors) that is one foot deep at a minimum.
Interesting FeaturesContains an enzyme that digests sinigrin to produce an oil called allyl isothiocyanate, which can be irritating and “spicy.”Despite often being called a root, ginger is actually a rhizome and an herb.

The Key Differences Between Horseradish and Ginger

Many of the key differences between horseradish and ginger come down to nutritional value. Horseradish is richer in vitamins such as vitamin C, fiber, and folate. Ginger is richer in copper and vitamin B6. Ginger also contains significantly less sodium than horseradish.

In addition to differences in nutrition, horseradish and ginger are completely different plants. Horseradish is a root plant, while ginger is considered a rhizome plant, though it is often confused for a root plant. They are completely different species, with horseradish being part of the genus armoracia and ginger being part of the genus zingiber.

Horseradish and ginger are native to completely different areas of the world. Horseradish is native to southeastern Europe and some parts of western Asia. Ginger, on the other hand, is native to southeastern Asia.

Horseradish vs. Ginger: Classification

Horseradish can be grated and used in sauces
The horseradish is a spicy root vegetable.

©iStock.com/unpict

Horseradish is known as armoracia rusticana, sometimes called cochlearia armoracia. It is a root vegetable and part of the brassicaceae family, closely related to vegetables like mustard, broccoli, and radishes. Ginger is known as zingiber officinale. It is a rhizome plant, meaning that it grows a stem underneath the soil that creates shoots and roots as it grows. Ginger is closely related to spices like cardamom and turmeric.

Horseradish vs. Ginger: Description

Horseradish is a perennial member of the brassicaceae family. It is a root vegetable that is grown and used as a spice and a condiment all over the world. The species is most likely endemic to western Asia and southeast Europe. Horseradish has unlobed, bright green, hairless leaves that can reach a height of five feet. It is grown for its big, white, tapering root in particular. If not adequately maintained, established plants may grow large patches and turn invasive.

Ginger is a member of the zingiberaceae family. It has a large, branching rhizome with a brown exterior and a yellow inside that smells spicy and lemony. It develops pseudostems from the rhizome each year that have skinny leaves. The flowers are a pale yellow tint with purple borders and grow in a cone-shaped spike on separate, shorter stalks. Cooking has been enhanced by the flavor and aroma of ginger for millennia.

Horseradish vs. Ginger: Uses

Fresh ginger which is pulled out from the ground along with the plant held in hand
Ginger has a milder and less intense flavor.

©iStock.com/Jeevan GB

Horseradish and ginger are mainly used for cooking. Horseradish has a mildly peppery flavor that works well in sauces and glazes. It can also be used as a dipping sauce for fried meals like potatoes and other things. Horseradish is less adaptable than ginger, though. It’s recommended to combine horseradish with sour cream or mayonnaise if you’re planning to consume it on its own. Additionally, some people think that raw horseradish has a slightly disagreeable odor. Ginger doesn’t have this issue because the flavor is milder and less intense, making it simpler to cover up any unpleasant root odor.

The flavor of ginger is mild and almost sweet. In savory foods, it is frequently used as a spice, or it may be blended with other spices to create a more complex meal. Since ancient times, ginger has been used as a medicine to alleviate stomach problems. The flavor and adaptability of ginger root are two of its key advantages. As a result, it’s a simple component to utilize in your kitchen because you may combine it with other spices and sauces. The drawback of ginger is that it can be challenging to locate fresh, organic pieces at your neighborhood supermarket; hence, the quality may differ substantially depending on where you buy it.

Both horseradish and ginger are used in traditional or folk medicine. Horseradish has been used to treat urinary tract infections, while ginger is used to treat stomach problems and aid in weight loss. It’s worth noting that there is little scientific evidence to back up these claims. Ginger can also be used in cosmetics and fragrances.

Please note: A-Z Animals does not recommend plants or herbs for medicinal or health use. We present the following information for academic and historical purposes only.

Horseradish vs. Ginger: Origin

Eastern Ukraine and southern Russia are where horseradish first appeared. Due to the herb’s beneficial uses in food and medicine, it has been grown for millennia in Europe. It can grow in agricultural zones four through eight in the United States.

Southeast Asia is where ginger first appeared. Since it does not exist in the wild, it is a true cultigen. The Austronesian peoples, who have been cultivating and utilizing various varieties of ginger since antiquity, provide the earliest evidence of its domestication. Agricultural Zones 9 through 12 are suitable for growing ginger.

Horseradish vs. Ginger: How to Grow

Root horseradish freshly dug-out of soil
Plant horseradish where they can receive full sunlight.

©iStock.com/Orest Lyzhechka

Although horseradish is resilient and flexible, giving it the right growing conditions will result in the largest, sweetest, and most tasty roots. Plants need full sunlight, so place them there. Horseradish can handle some sun, but it won’t produce as well. Plant in slightly acidic to neutral pH soil that is wet, fertile, and loamy. Remove any roots or rocks that can obstruct the horseradish’s growth by tilling the soil eight to ten inches deep. Plant it far from other garden crops or, like shrewd gardeners, bury lengths of drainage tile or even a bottomless five-gallon bucket with the roots planted in it to control their spread.

As soon as the soil can be worked in the early spring, plant tiny pieces of horseradish root. Plan to harvest horseradish in the fall right before a freeze or in the early spring of the following year because it needs a long growing season. When preparing to plant ginger, mix potting soil and compost mulch. To keep your ginger from rotting, put it in soil that drains well. Ginger grows best in somewhat acidic soil, so check that your soil or potting mix has a pH of six to six-and-a-half. Only two to five hours of direct sunlight every day are sufficient for ginger to grow and thrive. If you’re planting your ginger outside, keep that in mind. Use a plastic container that is at least 12 inches deep if you are planting your ginger in a pot.

You can grow ginger all year round if you live in a warm area. If you live somewhere with chilly winters, plant the ginger in a pot so you can bring it inside for the season. Put the ginger roots in the ground at least eight inches apart, two to four inches below the surface. Ginger requires a lot of space, so if you’re putting it in a pot, plant only one piece per pot. Plant with the buds pointing upwards if any of the roots are growing. After planting your ginger, immediately water it. Continue to water your soil until just before the soil dries out, keeping it moist but not saturated. The ginger plant’s stems will begin to deteriorate in the late summer or early fall. Completely cease watering the plant once the stems have died.

Horseradish vs. Ginger: Special Features

A root vegetable recognized for its strong flavor and aroma is horseradish. Its constituents may offer a range of health advantages, including protection against cancer, infections, and respiratory problems. The most popular way to eat horseradish is as a condiment.

Antioxidants, which are substances that shield your DNA from stress and oxidative damage, are abundant in ginger. They may also support healthy aging and aid your body in the fight against chronic conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and lung illnesses. Another special feature of ginger is that it develops clumps of pink and white flower buds that open to reveal yellow flowers. It is frequently utilized as landscaping around subtropical residences due to its aesthetic appeal and the plant’s tolerance to warm conditions.

While there are some notable differences that set ginger and horseradish apart, these two spicy plants could both make the perfect addition to your garden. This is especially true for ginger, as finding ginger root in the grocery store can be difficult. Why not plant both of these culinary classics in your own garden?

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The Featured Image

Fresh ginger whole and chopped on rustic wood surface
Ginger is a species of flowering plant of the Zingiberaceae family.
© iStock.com/grafvision

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About the Author

I'm a lover of all things sustainability, from urban farming to not killing houseplants. I love carnivorous plants, indigenous crops, and air-cleansing indoor plants. My area of expertise lies in urban farming and conscious living. A proud Southwest Institute of Healing Arts graduate and certified Urban Farming instructor.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are ginger and horseradish the same plant?

Horseradish and ginger are similar in that they both have roots spicy enough to blow your eyebrows off if eaten raw. However, these two plants are completely different species and not even in the same family.

Are ginger and horseradish from the same area?

Horseradish is native to Europe, while ginger is native to Asia.

Is horseradish root good for you?

Horseradish has a ton of antioxidants and is known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial medicinal properties.

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