It is a perennial plant that both grows in the wild and is easy to cultivate. It propagates by roots: it does not produce seeds. It dies back above ground during winter.
The plant grows 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) tall. It allowed to blossom, the flowers are yellow.
It is harvested for its young shoots, and for its crunchy flower buds, before they open in late summer.
The buds develop underground. By the time the buds have pushed above ground enough to be visible, they are past their prime, so they are grown in a layer of sawdust mulch about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) thick, so it’s easy to look for them. Every 2 to 3 days, harvesters look through the mulch and harvest the buds individually as they are ready. The buds are pink, turning green when they get above ground. To be marketable, a bud must have no tinge of green about it, A good bud will weigh about 6g; the top quality ones will be 10 to 15g.
The young shoots are also edible; they are blanched by covering them with straw, and harvested before they start to open into leaves. The root is not edible.
The young shoots are used shredded as a garnish on miso soup or on dishes with vinegar in them. The buds are shredded and used raw as a garnish. They can also be pickled.
Mioga is being grown on a trial basis in New Zealand as of 2001. New Zealand hopes to supply the Japanese market for the time of the year that they are out of season there, though Mioga is now also grown out of season in Japan in glass houses and plastic tunnels; this is called “Kochi myoga.”
Mioga is native to western China; introduced into Japan.
Clark, RJ and RA Warner. Production and Marketing of Japanese Ginger (Zingiber mioga) in Australia: A final report for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation. Barton, Australian Capital Territory: Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation. September 2000.
Douglas, J. A. Myoga ginger – Zingiber mioga. Report : Crop & Food Research Broadsheet Number 27. Ruakura Agricultural Centre Private Bag, Hamilton, New Zealand. March 2001
Douglas, Jim. Myoga Ginger. New Zealand Institute for Crop & Food Research Ltd. Private Bag, Hamilton, NZ. 2002.