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Pinecone Ginger: More Than Just a Pretty Face in Your Yard

Patricia is a retired teacher who enjoys gardening and sharing her experiences with others.

Learn some facts and uses of pinecone gnger

Learn some facts and uses of pinecone gnger

What Is Pinecone Ginger?

Pinecone ginger is originally from India and can be found around the globe in various tropical environments. It is sometimes called "shampoo ginger" or "bitter ginger" due to its taste and ability to be used as a hair cleanser.

I grow pinecone ginger in my yard, and each time a new cone begins to emerge the magic of each one tickles me pink. It is a resilient plant; I have had success transplanting it using pots.

The first time I ever transplanted one I was not sure how it would adjust to its new home. And as you can see in the first photo below, the plant is quite happy and has adjusted very nicely. It is my pleasure to share this photo with you—her adoring public.

No Pinecone Ginger This Year

Sadly I have no pine cone ginger in my yard. I moved last summer and they did not come with me. I had dug up tons of plants to bring but just did not get to them. I plan to ask my friend if I may take some out of her huge nursery which I where I got them in the first place. I am very excited at the prospect of having them again.

At present, my plants are recovering from moving. I will have no new fabulous cones until next spring. This unusual plant will keep you fascinated and provide your yard or garden with a cascade of brilliant colors as it grows. The pinecone ginger has been tucked up in my backyard and I did not know her secret until a few short days ago. I had only witnessed the leaves rustling in the evening breeze as I strolled around my property. I have seen the cones before in the state parks I have walked through but as long as I have lived in Florida, I have never had them growing in my yard.

It is so exciting to me. A week or so ago, I was in my backyard. I spied a cone-thingy growing on a sturdy stem under the canopy of trees and surrounding luxurious leafy plants. The first day or two, all that I could see was a tightly closed cone—very much like a pinecone—but it was a shade of green that you can find only in nature that cannot be replicated by all of the efforts of man or womankind. The closest I can come to describing the color is lime sherbet with a generous serving of cream stirred in to give it a light, tantalizing shade.

Cones are just forming at this point but bring a promise of beauty to come.

Cones are just forming at this point but bring a promise of beauty to come.

Where They Grow

This unusual plant first was known to grow in Southeast Asia. According to the Orlando Sentinel it also flourishes in many countries around the world that have warm climates at least some part of the year.

They do die back in the winter as I probably mentioned but they come back new and strong the next spring.

Locations Where Pine Cone Ginger Flourish

Watching the Change

Watching the cones became a daily ritual. After about three days, a perky yellow bloom emerged. A day or two later, a second bloom. A few days after that, a very tightly wound leaf stalk emerged, standing tall. A few days later, the leafy stalk turned into a leaf or two.

As luck would have it, I had not located the name of this plant but I had photographed it in case I would ever have the opportunity to share this story. A few days ago, my friend emailed me and said, "I am clearing some pinecone ginger from around my home. Would you like some?" Since I will always take plants, I, of course, jumped at the chance to receive them.

When she delivered them, I was excited to find that they were the plants I had been watching spring forth and develop in my backyard. I planted them by my fence today. As I planted them, I discovered that some of them are turning red. As soon as I got them planted, I ran to the back to see mine. They were also beginning to turn red. What an exciting day it has been.

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In the beginning, the tightly closed cone was all that I was allowed to see. After a day or two, two fragile looking pale yellow blossoms appeared. Several days later, a tightly closed leaf emerged, standing tall and straight. A week or so later, a tightly closed leaf emerged standing close to a now reddish pinecone ginger. After weeks, an abundance of leaves that seemed to be designed to wave in the breeze and cool the land emerged. Some leaves add a splash of color as they are variegated. Lush abundant leaves that rustle in the evening remind us of the need to luxuriate in the calm of nature.

It's exciting to see new leaves come out and the cone begin to form.

It's exciting to see new leaves come out and the cone begin to form.

Facts About the Pinecone Ginger

Family: Zingiberaceae

Genus: Zingiber

Species: Zerumber

  • They are mainly tropical plants which grow well in zone 8 but are also said to grow in zones 9-11. (I would investigate before trying to grow them in colder zones.)
  • They grow from 4-7 feet in height.
  • They form 'pinecones' which bloom and then produce leaves.
  • The cones can be a pale green and then turn to a red hue.
  • They make lush, tropical growth for enhancing your landscape.
  • They will overtake the area, however, so it is wise to keep an eye on them and thin out as needed.
The moisture from this cone can be used to wash your hair, leaving it feeling squeaky clean.

The moisture from this cone can be used to wash your hair, leaving it feeling squeaky clean.

Washing Hair With Liquid From Pinecone Ginger

This morning I gently squeezed the liquid from a cone. I emptied it on my hair, rubbed it around as if using shampoo, and then rinsed. It can be left in your hair if desired. My hair feels as clean as if I had used shampoo. Perhaps it is even a bit cleaner, as I did not need to worry about any residue being left behind on my hair.

The liquid is very clear and almost difficult to see once placed in a pan. It really does work well as a hair cleanser, though!

It is now weeks later and the cone is a deeper red. I will use the liquid you see to cleanse my hair and let you know the results. It is very clear and almost escapes your eye.

It is now weeks later and the cone is a deeper red. I will use the liquid you see to cleanse my hair and let you know the results. It is very clear and almost escapes your eye.

More Than Beauty

We can see that these will be a welcome addition to any landscape that can accommodate it. Pinecone ginger will take over if not monitored because it grows well and spreads easily on its own.

As the banner reads at the beginning, this is not just a pretty face. In Hawaii, for example, it is found in the Awapuhi family of plants and is the main ingredient in Awapuhi shampoo. It is used in shampoos and conditioners in other areas around the world, as well.

How to Make All Natural Shampoo From Pinecone Ginger

One source stated that the ginger root of this plant can be eaten but that it is bitter. It is not the one commonly used for the ginger that we use in our cooking. I would suggest researching this thoroughly, as I only read that in one source that I came across. The leaves were used by some to wrap meat in, which would season it.

Pinecone ginger also serves healing purposes. In some locations, the roots are harvested, kept cool, and used for healing. There are many other uses for this plant.

Perhaps you wish to give these a home in your yard. They are easy to grow and care for. Provide some sun and shade for a home and trim them back some after all of the growth has stopped for the year. They will come back new and fresh the next spring, my friend tells me. I have not experienced that yet so I have that to look forward to next spring.

It's fall and these beauties are back in all of their glory... the vibrant red is indescribable.

It's fall and these beauties are back in all of their glory... the vibrant red is indescribable.

Surprising Hair Cleanser

It is time to pluck these cones (shown below) and use their juices to cleanse my hair. I wait till the last minute, as I enjoy looking at the vibrant cones so much.

Pluck, squeeze, and apply to your wet hair. No suds. Squeaky clean hair is the result.

Going strong in 2021 and ready to be plucked and used for cleaning my hair.

Going strong in 2021 and ready to be plucked and used for cleaning my hair.

Questions & Answers

Question: When do the cones on a Pinecone Ginger start to show? I have beautiful plants but as yet no cones.

Answer: It actually varies. There is really no specific time. I have found in Florida they die off in a cold winter, but come back the next summer and may have cones by fall. Be patient; it will happen.

© 2012 Patricia Scott

Comments

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on July 06, 2020:

Enjoy...they are just magical to me

.Angels are headed your way. ps

Joy on June 15, 2020:

I'm in Northern Florida. I have 2 plants, on 1 there is a large bud. It's only middle of June now.

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on September 21, 2019:

The pine cone ginger will survive in TN. However they die back in the winter. You will think they are dead and gone but since they have a bulb of sorts they will surprise you and come back the next year Thank you for stopping . Angels are on the way to you. ps

JoAnn G. on September 20, 2019:

I live in the Brentwood TN area. Will my pine cone lilies survive if I plant them in the ground?

Edward Morris Campbell on August 24, 2019:

I just dug up about 100 plants and threw them away.l Still have a bunch. They die back in fall and come back with a vengeance in the spring

Brenda Parker on August 17, 2019:

I live on the Space Coast. They were on my side of the fence the i saw them on the other side and the neighbors let me transplant them to my side. It was wonderful to get them. Now i so much enjoy watching them grow and the cones grow and blossom.. I have a large patch of the pine cone ginger.

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on April 05, 2019:

They become dormant in winter but come back the next year provided they are healthy plants Be patient and you should see a revival Angels are headed your way this evening ps

Opal Ann on March 27, 2019:

My “shampoo ginger” plant was going along fine and all of a sudden I noticed the leaves, or whatever you call them, died within a week or so. someone told me that they did back like regular bulb type flowers. Is this true? I only had the two plants for about 2 months and were growing great. Didn’t move them so it wasn’t that they didn’t like a change of location

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on October 21, 2018:

I had that happen when they were getting too much sun. I have found they thrive in shady spots. They transplant well but do take time to come back. Angels are on the way this evening. ps

Paulette Wharin on October 19, 2018:

The leaves on my pine cone ginger are turning brown. One entire plant is brown. Any reason, treatment?

Jim on October 19, 2018:

Shampoo Ginger can be "milked" to get more ginger https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tiif7TM3NZg

Roy on August 17, 2018:

I discovered the cones today in my new backyard and they're flourishing. I'm in zone 9a.

Jane Marinello on August 11, 2018:

I just recently purchased two of these and am fascinated by them. I still have them in the black plastic pots from the grower. I don't have much shade so am trying to find the best place for them. How long can they stay in the pot i bought them in?

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on April 27, 2018: