Description from Flora of China
Rhizomes branched, tuberous, aromatic. Pseudostems erect, leafy. Leaves distichous, held in plane parallel to rhizome; petiole swollen, cushionlike; leaf blade oblong, lanceolate, or linear. Inflorescences conical, arising from rhizomes on peduncle clothed with scalelike sheaths, rarely breaking through leaf sheaths without peduncle; bracts closely imbricate, green or other color, 1-flowered, persistent; bracteoles not tubular. Calyx tubular, split on 1 side, apex 3-toothed. Corolla tube slender; central lobe white or cream, usually wider than lateral lobes. Lateral staminodes adnate to labellum, forming a 3-lobed labellum; central lobe retuse or cleft at apex. Filament short; connective with elongate appendage wrapped around style. Ovary 3-loculed; ovules numerous per locule; placentation axile. Style slender, extending beyond anther locules; stigma not expanded. Capsule dehiscent loculicidally or irregularly. Seeds black, covered by aril; aril white, margin irregularly lacerate.
Zingiber purpureum Roscoe, which is cultivated in Yunnan (Jinghong Xian) for medicinal purposes, is not described in this account.
Between 100 and 150 species: tropical to warm-temperate Asia; 42 species (34 endemic, one introduced) in China.