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Is Turmeric a Vegetable or Herb? [Confusion Solved]

Due to a lack of technical definition of vegetables, many people debate whether Turmeric is truly a vegetable or entirely something else.

Generally, Turmeric is a root vegetable as it aligns with the subjective definition or literal understanding of vegetables. However, Turmeric is not a fruit but a rhizome used to prepare food seasoning and coloring spice.

So, read on to unveil the true classification of Turmeric, so you clearly know if it is a true vegetable, a herb, or a spice.

What is Turmeric?

Famous for several health benefits, Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a perennial upright plant with fragrant dark green egg-shaped leaves.

Turmeric, classified under the Ginger (Zingiberaceae) plant family, often signifies the rhizome part of the plant.

Moreover, when people hear Turmeric, they think of popping yellow powder prepared by grinding the dried rhizome.

Turmeric powder is greatly used in cooking various Asian cuisines as a coloring and flavoring agent.

Besides culinary use, Turmeric bears high medicinal properties, so no wonder they bear long history of use in Ayurveda.

Is Turmeric a Herb or Vegetable?

In botanical terms, the herbaceous, aka herb, is a small leafy green, seed-bearing plant without a woody stem.

However, in a culinary sense, herbs could be any plants that offer or adds distinct flavors to the dish.

On the other hand, a vegetable is an arbitrary term without any technical or botanical definition.

turmeric rhizome
Do you know Turmeric is widely used in everyday household foods in Southeast countries?

So, the definition of vegetables is subjective and often considered as mild-flavored plant parts that can be eaten after cooking.

Thus, based on these definitions, technically, Turmeric is neither a vegetable nor a herb.

Having that said, we use rhizomes of the Turmeric plant, so it would not be wrong to say Turmeric is a root vegetable in the culinary world.

Is Turmeric a Spice or Fruit?

The culinary world defines fruit like Tomato as a pulpy, fleshy edible plant product that offers sweet or sour flavor.

Meanwhile, it defines spice as a substance prepared by processing plant parts that bring flavor, aroma, and nutrition to the dish.

Plant parts like seeds, roots, stems, leaves, and flowers can be used to prepare spice via various steps.

Thus, Turmeric is a spice, not a fruit, as we use the yellow powder of the dried Turmeric rhizomes to add color, flavor, and aroma to the food.

Editor’s Note

Super Healthy, Super Spice!

Not only is Turmeric adored by Southeast Asians for its exquisite culinary purposes, but it is also famous for jam-packed active medicinal ingredients.

Turmeric possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is said to alleviate heart diseases and even prevent cancer.

But beware! If you have gallbladder issues, gastrointestinal disorders, or a sensitive stomach, refrain from having Turmeric.

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