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

Updated on March 27, 2018
pstraubie48 profile image

Patricia is a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a daughter whose passion is to put into writing things she feels and experiences.

A reddish cone (next to it is a leaf-to-be still tightly wound closed) just beginning to take on its blushing hue.
A reddish cone (next to it is a leaf-to-be still tightly wound closed) just beginning to take on its blushing hue. | Source

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.

Pretty Little Cone in Its Early Stages

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. | Source

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.

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. | Source

Facts About the Pinecone Ginger

  • 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.

Pinecone ginger is sometimes known by the name shampoo ginger, bitter ginger, or wild ginger.

Family: Zingiberaceae

Genus: Zingiber

Species: Zerumber

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. | Source

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.

Elixir for Cleansing Hair from the Red Cone

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. | Source

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.

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. | Source

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Patricia Scott

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      • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

        Patricia Scott 

        2 months ago from sunny Florida

        Yes that would work but you really do want to bring them in if you will have extended freezing weather.

      • profile image

        acaseofmurph 

        2 months ago

        Hi everyone, I live in zone 7b. Is it possible to grow these in containers and bring it during winter? I see Jeanie (post below) asked a similar question though I am further North. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

      • profile image

        Carol Hennessey 

        9 months ago

        Thank You !! I have had these plants around my pool /patio area for years , had no clue what they were Thanks for clearing that up.

        I love the different stages and colors

      • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

        Patricia Scott 

        21 months ago from sunny Florida

        No Jeanie you do not need to dig them up in winter. They do die back in winter but come back stronger and healthier actually in the spring.

        Thanks for stopping. Angels are on the way to you this evening. ps

      • profile image

        Jeanie Wilkerson 

        21 months ago

        I understand that you live in Florida. A friend from that area gave me one to see if I could grow in North Alabama, where the climate is much colder in winter. It is October now, and I have a cone beginning to turn red. What I would like to know, is whether I should dig up the root for winter, or just heavily mulch it for the best chance of saving this lovely plant. Any suggestions?

      • profile image

        marydck2161@gmail.com 

        21 months ago

        Beautiful

      • profile image

        Kristi 

        22 months ago

        Very interesting and unusual plant!!! Nature is Wonderful:) Thank you for your beautiful pictures and information!

      • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

        Patricia Scott 

        3 years ago from sunny Florida

        You are exactly right...having one's own shampoo right in the yard is a good thing. It is just perfect...nothing added, just natural cleaning agents.

        I adore these plants..they are a novelty every time the cones appear..

        thank you for visiting, AuFait Hoping all is well with you and yours this evening Angels are winging their way to you on this lovely Friday evening. ps

      • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

        Patricia Scott 

        3 years ago from sunny Florida

        No....it looks as though the hub has been readjusted since I published it...I will move the phrase up.

        I have no idea why it did that---that has not happened on any other hubs...I have been back here many times and this is the first time it has been out of its correct spot..glad you saw it and mentioned it..thanks.

        These are amazing plants indeed.

        Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

      • poetryman6969 profile image

        poetryman6969 

        3 years ago

        Beautiful. Voted up. I like the energy you put into it.

        Starting with : Watching them emerge, are there photos missing? It looks like there should be images there but I am not seeing them on my browser.

      • Au fait profile image

        C E Clark 

        3 years ago from North Texas

        Don't think I've ever seen this plant or heard of it before. Sounds interesting. People may find it especially interesting to grow their own shampoo!

        Voted up, UI, and pinned to Awesome HubPages and shared.

      • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

        Patricia Scott 

        3 years ago from sunny Florida

        Hi It does sort of resemble a tiny beehive, doesn't it ?

        Mine have all died back for the winter but they come back nicely in the spring.

        thanks for stopping.

        Know that Angels are on the way to you today ps

      • peachpurple profile image

        peachy 

        3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

        oh that is a flower! i thought it is a beehive

      • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

        Patricia Scott 

        3 years ago from sunny Florida

        Thank you for stopping by. They are dormant right now as it is cool time here in Florida. I will be happy to see them again in the summer

        Angels are on the way to you to day ps

      • VioletteRose profile image

        VioletteRose 

        3 years ago from Chicago

        Very interesting hub! I think I have seen it somewhere, but not sure. Thanks for introducing me to a natural shampoo!

      • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

        Patricia Scott 

        3 years ago from sunny Florida

        Hi Ellabee You know I am not sure about that. But when I get new cones I will pull a few and dry them and see. That is a great question.

        Angels are on the way to you today ps

      • profile image

        Ellabee 

        3 years ago

        I have some also and love the way they change color. Do you think you could cut them and dry them to use in crafts?

      • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

        Patricia Scott 

        5 years ago from sunny Florida

        O, Peggy, the ones you describe sound lovely. I suppose I will need to get some of them...I am anxiously awaiting the cones again this year.

        Glad to see you today.. Angels are on the way ps

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        5 years ago from Houston, Texas

        How very interesting! We have the regular type of ginger growing in our backyard and it is once again blooming. The individual blooms on each stalk look similar to little orchid blossoms. I'm going to add a link from this hub to mine titled Pictures of the versatile ginger plant gracing our backyard. I think that people will be interested in this unique pine cone ginger. I have never seen one like this! UUI votes and will pin.

      • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

        Patricia Scott 

        5 years ago from sunny Florida

        Hi Koffeee Klatch Gals

        Yes, I was just looking at them today. They are growing new healthy leaves right now. I am so excited about the prospects of seeing the cones again this fall. They do grow very well here in Florida.

        Thanks for visiting today. Angels are on the way ps

      • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

        Susan Hazelton 

        5 years ago from Sunny Florida

        I have never heard of a Pinecone Ginger. It's beautiful. I love the step by step growth pictures you have shown. I notice you're growing it in Florida, I must have one of those plants. Up, interesting, and awesome.

      • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

        Patricia Scott 

        5 years ago from sunny Florida

        Hi vocalcoach

        Yes, I am eagerly awaiting a few months from now, probably September, when these lovelies peek out again. I love the unusual and this certainly fits that description.

        I imagine Hawaii would be a great place to find them as they love that type of climate.

        Have a lovely day. Angels are on the way ps

      • vocalcoach profile image

        Audrey Hunt 

        5 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        While living in Hawaii ( Kauai - The Garden Isle ), I found many of the pine cone ginger. They are plentiful there. I really didn't know much about these plants at that time. Very glad for this hub and all of the information you've provided. Thank you ps and enjoy your day! Up and sharing.

      • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

        Patricia Scott 

        5 years ago from sunny Florida

        Hi moonlake

        During this time of the year, I am missing this beautiful cone. It is a very understated whorl of leaves right now. But about September changes will begin to happen and after several weeks the cones will begin to form.

        thank you for visiting today.

        Angels are on the way ps

      • moonlake profile image

        moonlake 

        5 years ago from America

        I have never heard of a pine cone ginger. How pretty it is wish I could grow it in my yard. Voted up.

      • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

        Patricia Scott 

        5 years ago from sunny Florida

        Hi Litterrose

        You know I did not know either till I did some research. All of my red cones now are turned to beautiful leaves. So I must wait till next year to view them again. thank you for stopping by. :) ps

      • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

        Patricia Scott 

        5 years ago from sunny Florida

        Hi Littlerose

        You know I did not know either till I did some research. All of my red cones now are turned to beautiful leaves. So I must wait till next year to view them again. thank you for stopping by. :) ps

      • littlerose11 profile image

        littlerose11 

        5 years ago

        Its amazing here Philippines lots of pine cone ginger but i don''t have an idea that it make used as shampoo...Nice and educational

      • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

        Patricia Scott 

        5 years ago from sunny Florida

        ComfortB...Oh, you will love them if you get some. One thing to remember is that they really do spread. They are not noxious though and can be removed if you find you have too many. They add an interest to your yard as they change from the tiny cone with pale yellow flowers to the brilliant scarlet.

        Thank you for stopping by. I will be over to visit soon.

      • ComfortB profile image

        Comfort Babatola 

        5 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        Never seen these before. Pine Cone Ginger, something beautiful and useful.

        Thanks for sharing. Voted Up and useful.

      • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

        Patricia Scott 

        5 years ago from sunny Florida

        Hi , Mary615...Absolutely fine if you link. I do so love the creeper and am looking for one on line today. I will be back to see your other hubs. I am always looking for plants I am unfamilar with. Thanks for stopping by.

      • mary615 profile image

        Mary Hyatt 

        5 years ago from Florida

        My goodness, what a beauty! I have a ginger plant that blooms and is beautiful, but I've never seen a pine cone ginger. Thanks for the link to my Hub on the Rangoon Creeper, and I would like to link back, OK?

        I voted this Hub UP, and will share.

      • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

        Patricia Scott 

        5 years ago from sunny Florida

        Hi billy buc....so now you know just like I found out. I considered camping out in my back yard through the growing process but the mosquitoes won out....

        i can't wait till they are fully red. that is when i can take one and squeeze out the milky substance to use on my hair. i will only use one..they are far too pretty to be used on my hair....thank you as usual for stopping by.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        5 years ago from Olympia, WA

        How weird! I just saw one of these in someone's yard the other day and I had no idea what it was. Thanks for the education! Very cool!

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