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

A Newbie Cone with its companion blossom appeared---October 7, 2019

pine-cone-ginger-more-than-just-a-pretty-face-in-your-yard

Transplanted Wonder

Each time a new cone begins to emerge the magic of each one tickles me pink. This pine cone ginger plant had been transplanted 14 months ago into a large pot.

This was the first time I had ever done so was not sure how it would adjust to its new home. And as you can see, it is quite happy and has adjusted very nicely. It is my pleasure to share this photo with you---her adoring public.

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.

Nestled in among other plants is my sister's Pine Cone Ginger here in Austin, Texas

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No PCG 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 have 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.

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.

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

  • 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.

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.

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.

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:

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

acaseofmurph on April 19, 2018:

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!

Carol Hennessey on September 23, 2017:

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

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on October 22, 2016:

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

Jeanie Wilkerson on October 11, 2016:

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?

marydck2161@gmail.com on October 08, 2016:

Beautiful

Kristi on September 18, 2016:

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

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on April 17, 2015:

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

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on April 17, 2015:

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 on April 16, 2015:

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.

C E Clark from North Texas on April 16, 2015:

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.

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on February 01, 2015:

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

peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 31, 2015:

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

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on January 15, 2015:

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 from Atlanta on January 13, 2015:

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

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on October 13, 2014:

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

Ellabee on September 25, 2014:

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?

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on May 29, 2013:

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 Woods from Houston, Texas on May 29, 2013:

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.

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on May 28, 2013:

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

Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on May 28, 2013:

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.

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on May 28, 2013:

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

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on May 27, 2013:

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.

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on May 26, 2013:

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 from America on May 25, 2013:

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

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on November 08, 2012:

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

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on November 08, 2012:

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 on November 08, 2012:

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

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on September 08, 2012:

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.

Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on September 08, 2012:

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

Thanks for sharing. Voted Up and useful.

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on September 08, 2012:

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.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on September 08, 2012:

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.

Patricia Scott (author) from North Central Florida on August 15, 2012:

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.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 15, 2012:

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!