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?