Turmeric (Curcuma longa), also called curcuma, is a plant from the ginger family (Zingiberaceae). The botanical name is derived from the Arabic word "al-krukum", which means "saffron" and refers to the colour and staining properties of the turmeric plant. Its dye has approximately the same hue as saffron, but the plants are not botanically related. The turmeric plant originates from China and India, where it has been cultivated and used for food and medicinal purposes for at least 5,000 years, and is even mentioned in the Vedas, the holy scriptures of Hinduism. The turmeric plant also plays an important role in Ayurvedic nutrition; for example, the powder is an essential ingredient of curry powder and is found in almost every dish. Yellow dye derived from the plant's rhizome is also used to dye a variety of materials including paper, textiles and ointments.
Turmeric is one of the best researched plants due to its wealth of valuable phytonutrients. Best known of these are the curcuminoids, but the turmeric root also has other valuable substances, such as turmerosaccharides and essential oils.