PINE CONE GINGER

Post last updated: October 10th, 2018

Patch of Pine Cone Ginger at the edge of the woods
Photographed 11/12/2012

 

Same patch on 9/19/2017

 

This tropical-looking plant is a Pine Cone Ginger or Shampoo Ginger (zingiber zerumbet) with a baby pine cone ginger in the background. It is native to southeast Asia but has spread around the world in tropical and subtropical climates.  An easy to grow member of the ginger family, it is hardy from USDA Zones 8 to 11 but sometimes grows as far north as 7b. It likes heat and humidity but prefers filtered shade to look green and healthy like you see here.

In late summer, green bracts shaped like a pine cone emerge from the ground on slightly shorter stalks. In Hawaii, its common name is “Awapuhi.”

Cream-colored flowers with a spicy aroma bloom from the bracts.

In late September, the pine cone ripens to red.

In Asia and Hawaii, it is used as a shampoo and is sometimes found in commercial shampoos. Remove the cone from the plant after it ripens to red. Gently squeeze the thick, sudsy juice into your wet hair as a softening rinse or shampoo. You’ll notice a ginger scent. You can rinse it out or leave it in. You can also use it to massage the skin.

When I was taking the photograph of the baby pine cone ginger, I had another one of those adventures that was not on my agenda. First, I had a long walk just to get to the woods. I live on acreage, remember? The gingers were in the woods because I got tired of them spreading in my flower beds. The pine cone ginger is not invasive but its rhizomes do spread and the plants take up a lot of room in the flower bed. In my opinion, the leaves grow every which-a-way in an unattractive manner necessitating their banishment from my flower beds. In the woods, they get less sun and they don’t spread as much.

I eased my aging hulk down on one knee so that I could photograph the baby pine cone and my shutter button refused to budge. I’ve been having some problems along those lines so this was nothing new but when it would not fire time after time, well, that was new. I turned the camera on and off more than once and one of those times I caught the flash of a message in the screen on the back of the camera. No CF card. Sigh. My friends are right. I’m S.O.S., stuck on stupid. The CF card was still in the computer.

 Ordinarily he was insane,

But he had lucid moments

When he was merely stupid.

— Heinrich Heine, German critic/poet

This necessitated heaving my hulking body back to a standing position and walking back in the miserable heat (Yes, Virginia, we’ve had a warming trend) to retrieve the card. Then walking back, yet again, to get down on one knee. Was it worth it? 

18 thoughts on “PINE CONE GINGER”

  1. Well, your photos have been well worth it.
    I understand what it is like having to get down on your knees or whatever’s, so I am glad you persevered.

    1. Meta – I’m so glad someone understands. With a bad back now, compliments of inattentive driver, and the knees getting a little “arthur-ritis,” I’m never quite sure when I get down on one knee that I’ll be getting back up.

  2. Yes it was worth it. I love these things. I’ve used them in amongst broken pine boughs in a huge vase for a spectacular bouquet.

  3. Intriguing. Yes, it was worth it. Besides, you got some extra exercise! 🙂 Very interesting information about the shampoo qualities. That would be fun to try! And I see it will grow in my zone! Now, just to find the perfect spot for it. For some reason, maybe just my computer, but your first photo was a bit blurry. I clicked on it, and it was magically perfectly focused.

  4. It was so worth it. The pictures are beautiful and I must admit I did giggle and call you a numb nut for forgetting the memory card. You know, many days you are the highlight of my day. I look forward to seeing what you are getting into. Was Whiskey with you when you went sashaying into the wilderness ?

        1. Kathryn — I honestly don’t know. I have the rhizomes and they spread on their own. I tried Googling “propagating” them and found at least one other person who asked the same question on a forum but I couldn’t see that they got an answer. If you have access to the leaf part, experiment. Cut the stalky part off so that you have only the leaf and its “arm” and put it in water. However, if you have access to the leaf, couldn’t you beg for a rhizome?

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