596 Zingiber zerumbetCommon Names: pinecone ginger, shampoo ginger, Awapuhi kuahiwi (Hawaii) Family: Zingiberaceae (ginger Family)
Zingiber zerumbet grows to about 7 ft (2.1 m) tall with long narrow leaves arranged oppositely along the stem. In mid to late summer, separate stalks grow out of the ground with green cone-shaped bracts that resemble pinecones. The green cone turns red over a couple of weeks and then small creamy yellow flowers appear on the cone. In some locales this plant is known as the "pinecone ginger", but it is most widely known as the "shampoo ginger" for the creamy liquid substance in the cones.
The cultivar 'Darceyi' (sometimes incorrectly named Zingiber darceyi or Zingiber d'Arceyi) has green and creamy white variegated foliage, and only grows to about 4 feet tall. Cones are produced similar to the species. One grower describes a cultivar called 'Dwarf Waimanalo Pinstripeshell' with "beautiful white pinstripes that mark the entire green leaves."
Zingiber zerumbet is native to southeast Asia but has been widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas around the world, and has naturalized in some areas.
CultureThe Pinecone Ginger is an easy-to-grow pass-along plant that will make a large clump from a single rhizome in a couple of years. It grows easily, provided sufficient moisture and fertile, organic soil. Light: Full sun to partial shade Moisture: Regular moisture to fairly wet soil. Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 11. It is reliably hardy in zone 8 and higher, but has been reported to be root hardy in zone 7B as well. Propagation: Propagate by division of clumps or pieces of the rhizome.
Zingiber zerumbet is a plant of many uses. It makes an excellent fast-growing landscape plant for tropical effect, and the cone shaped flowers are long lasting and useful for cut flower arrangements. This plant is most widely known around the world as the "Shampoo Ginger" for the milky substance in the cones, and it is in fact used as a shampoo in Asia and Hawaii, and as an ingredient in several commercial shampoos.
Shampoo ginger was used as medicine for sprains, indigestion and other ailments. In traditional use, the root was ground with a stone mortar and pestle, and the pulp was placed in a cloth and loosely bound around the injured area. To ease a stomach ache, the ground and strained root material was mixed with water and drunk. For a toothache or a cavity, the cooked and softened 'awapuhi root was pressed into the hollow and left for as long as was needed.
The related, 'awapuhi pake or culinary ginger (Zingiber officinale) also was eaten, or made into a tea for indigestion as well as increased circulation of the blood and an increased sense of well-being.
This ginger is not truly invasive or any danger to the natural environment, but it will spread in the garden and may overtake other plants if not given plenty of room.
Dave Skinner 12/28/99; updated 11/4/03