The turmeric comes from the root of a tree of the ginger family, and in reality it is very similar to ginger when it is fresh. The stems are boiled, dried and ground into powder.
The turmeric is usually not used on its own. Instead, it is used along with spice blends for curry and rubbing on meats. If you do not want to spend much to buy saffron, you can add a few pinches of turmeric and give this bright yellow color to your food. The spices have different flavors (saffron is more floral), but both are strong coloring agents.