Ginger or ginger root is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, consumed as a delicacy, medicine, or spice. It lends its name to its genus and family (Zingiberaceae). Other notable members of this plant family are turmeric, cardamom, and galangal. The distantly related dicots in the Asarum genus have the common name wild ginger because of their similar taste.
During the Race Invasion of Tosev 3, ginger was found to have a powerful narcotic effect on males of the Race that consumed it. Shortly after the Colonization Fleet arrived in 1962, ginger was also found to disrupt the hormonal balance of females, causing them to become fertile and emit sexual pheromones which attract males every time they tasted it regardless of whether they were in their mating seasons.
It was most commonly pulverized before "tasting" (slang for consumption). The powder was poured onto the palm of a taster's hand and licked up, but it could also be consumed by biting off pieces of a whole ginger root--which produced a much stronger high. Lime-cured ginger was especially appealing.
Fleetlord Atvar quickly banned ginger when it was found to lower the combat readiness of the males of the Conquest Fleet, and especially it was "ginger-tasters" that were partly responsible for Ussmak's rebellion, and much later for disrupting the Race's mating seasons. His ban was confirmed by every subsequent Race authority figure to come into contact with the herb. However, these bans proved extraordinarily difficult to enforce as ginger was both powerfully addictive for the Race and extremely lucrative to smugglers of every species. (Many human smugglers, including Pierre Dutourd and Rance Auerbach, were secretly encouraged by various Earth governments to sell ginger, so as to disrupt the Race's culture.) In 1963, the Soviet Union covertly launched an attack on a Race city in Australia, which included missiles armed with warheads which shot clouds of powdered ginger into the air. Atvar was visiting at the time. The Race never learned the source of this attack.
Though ginger was not native to Home, it had become firmly entrenched there long before the arrival of "Tosevites" on the Admiral Peary, who made some effort to introduce additional ginger into the black market.
A side effect of ginger was the appearance of prostitution (a phenomenon hitherto unknown among The Race) with some females ready to take ginger in exchange for payment and thus make themselves sexually available outside the normal mating seasons.