Thursday, October 28, 2010

Zingiber zerumbet (Shampoo Ginger)

Zingiber zerumbet is one of the deciduous gingers that multiplies rapidly and blooms reliably every year.  It is also known as Pinecone Ginger or Shampoo Ginger.  The "shampoo" is the copious amount of fluid produced by the plant inside the mature flower cones.  When squeezed out, the fluid can be used as a fragrant hair rinse or body wash.
The inflorescence emerges directly from the ground and rises about a foot above the soil.  Delicate yellow flowers open a few at a time from between the scales of the green cone as summer progresses.
By fall, the cones become a bright red and can be used as long-lasting cut flowers.
Zingiber zerumbet grows to about 5 foot in height and blooms best in full sun to part shade, but the plant will also grow quite well in full shade.  It is native to southeast Asia and is recommended for USDA Zones 8-11.  In colder climates you can easily grow this plant in containers or as a seasonal garden plant that is lifted in the fall and stored in a dormant state over the winter.
The root of this ginger is not considered edible, but the leaves can be used to flavor foods while cooking. In some traditional medicines the ground and strained rhizome was mixed with water and drunk to ease stomach ache.  A poultice of the ground rhizome was also used to treat sprains and bruises.

Chemical compounds extracted from the leaves and rhizomes have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties with potential for use in medicines. One such chemical, zerumbone, is being investigated as a treatment for various types of cancer.


Steve Asbell said...

Its about time you did a profile of this versatile ginger! I especially love how even gardeners up north can grow it and store the rhizome in winter! Mine hasn't bloomed yet, but once it gets started I'm sure it will be on a roll!

NanaK said...

I love this plant. I've used them in flower arrangements but haven't tried the hair rinse. Maybe I'll get brave and try that - once.

fer said...

A very interesting looking ginger.
I like the delicate flowers. And the red cone looks like a candy. It would be nice to have one around