by Jessica Hawkins
Zingiber zerumbet is a ginger like plant that appears in the spring, and will start to grow large clumps and will provide tropical effect in one’s landscape. Come fall, 10-inch stalks appear with red cones that resemble pinecones, and are used for floral arrangements and for seasoning foods. Zingiber zerumbet is also used today as an added fragrance in shampoos and body lotions. Pinecone ginger is not native to North America.
Pinecone ginger goes by many names. The first name it has is Zingiber zerumbet, which is its botanical name. It also goes by pinecone ginger or shampoo ginger for a more common name. It also goes by Awapuhi kuahiwi in Hawaii. Pinecone ginger is native to both India and the Malay Peninsula.
The Zingiber zerumbet grows anywhere from four to seven feet tall and spreads anywhere from four to six feet in any direction. It has leaves that are long and narrow and arranged on opposite sides of the stem. Pinecone ginger is not an actively invasive or is not a danger to the environment, it will however spread take over other plants if it’s not given plenty of room for growth. Pinecone ginger is a very fuss free plant that requires little to no extra attention.
You can however grow pinecone ginger year round in the United States and it’s native locations. You can grow it in containers above ground planters. It’s somewhat available here in the United States, but your more likely to have to go out of the region to find the plant it’s self. If you do get the plant, it’s very easy to grow in humid climates. There are no diseases of the plant to be concerned with.
Where it grows:
Pinecone ginger grows not only in its native environment. It also grows in subtropical and tropical locations. It also has a few locations in southern or the western United States.
In late summer early fall, the separate stalks grow each with a green cone shaped bracts on top that look like pinecones. Over time, the green cones change to red and after a couple of weeks small cream-colored flowers pop out of the top of each stalk.
Where its from:
The pinecone ginger is native to both India and the Malay Peninsula. In the Malay Peninsula it is known as “Lempoyang.” It has also been cultivated widely in tropical and subtropical areas around the world and has even been naturalized in some other areas.
The Pinecone Ginger is very easy-to-grow. It is also a good pass-along plant, it will, in a couple of years, make a large clump of plants from a single rhizome. It grows pretty easily as long as it has fertile soil and regular moisture to fairly wet soil. It grows best in full sun to partial shade. If you look at the map to the right, in the shaded areas, it shows where pinecone ginger is best grown.
The main use of pinecone ginger is that it is used in shampoos (ex. Aussie shampoo). A pinecone ginger’s leaves are also used to flavor meat, also the rhizomes extracts from pinecone ginger are used as food flavoring too. And the powdered rhizome within the plant is used for scenting kappa.
Pinecone ginger is used in medicine for sprains, indigestion, fever, constipation, diarrhea, and other health problems. It is also used as an antispasmodic, antirheumatic, and diuretic agents. In its traditional uses, grounding up the root with stone mortar and pestle makes a pulp that is placed on a cloth and loosely bound around sprains and such. Its use in easing stomachaches, the ground and strained root material is mixed with water and ingested. And for toothaches, the cooked and softened `awapuhi root is pressed in the hollow and left on the tooth for as long as it is needed.
Pinecone ginger, in the Malays is used for the fresh rhizomes as a cure for edema, loss of appetite, sores, and stomach aches. The boiled juice the rhizomes makes is used to treat worm infestation in children.
In Hawaii, the pinecone ginger rhizome powder that is within the plant is used for scenting kappa.
In Thailand, the fresh rhizomes are used as an antiflatulent agent.
The Chinese, put the rhizomes into alcohol and use it as a tonic or stimulant.
The Taiwanese happen to use the pinecone ginger as an anti-inflammatory for stomachaches, sprains, and fevers.
In India, the rhizome is mixed with other herbs for asthma, coughs, leprosy, severe pain, and treatment of toothaches, worms, and other skin diseases.