Pinecone Ginger: More Than Just a Pretty Face in Your Yard
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Questions & Answers
© 2012 Patricia Scott