Pinecone Ginger

“Pinecone Ginger”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana


In 2007,  when I attended a garden show at the New Orleans Botanical Gardens, I purchased several plants, one of which was a pinecone ginger plant.  I believe I bought it at the fall garden show because the first winter I kept it in its container and just protected it.  In spring of 2008, I planted it in the garden where it did well, but no pinecones.  You see, this ginger, which is also called shampoo ginger, produces a pinecone shaped inflorescence  that will turn red during the fall.  I saw it planted in the Gardens and was so happy to be able to purchase one at the show.

Last year I looked forward to seeing the “pinecones” and was so disappointed that my plant was too young to produce any.  Well, this year is a slightly different story.  Just the other day, I noticed two “pinecones” emerging from the ground.  Don’t let the hydrangea leaf in the foreground throw you.


Pinecone Ginger (redu)


They are about four inches high now and should grow a little more before starting to turn red.  Little white flowers will show up under the bracts.

This ginger, Zingiber zerumbet, can grow to be seven feet tall, but mine is only about four feet right now.  It has long narrow leaves growing on opposite sides of the stems.  The bracts emerge from the ground on separate stems.  This ginger is hardy to zone 8 and is supposed to be root hardy to zone 7.  It certainly gives a wonderful tropical feel to the garden especially with our recent hot temperatures.


Pinecone Ginger Foliage (redu)


Pinecone Ginger Top Foliage (redu)


It is known as shampoo ginger because of a creamy substance that comes from the cones, and is supposed to be used as a shampoo in the tropics.  I don’t know if I would want to try it though.  The pinecones are supposed to last a long time and work well in flower arrangements.

I only have two pinecones this year, and they haven’t turned red yet, but I am looking forward to more next year.  I’ll be sure to do another post when these turn red so everyone can see how they look when mature.


  1. Janet said,

    July 26, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    I will look forward to seeing the pinecones when they turn red. An interesting plant.

    • Jan said,

      July 31, 2009 at 7:55 pm

      Thanks, Janet. I’ll keep you posted as the pinecones develop and turn red. I think that in years to come, it should look really good as it gets bigger with more cones.

  2. July 26, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    Very interesting plant and such an informative post. I’ve never seen this plant before. -Jackie

    • Jan said,

      July 31, 2009 at 7:53 pm

      Jackie, I had only seen it in books. Many years ago, Home Depot had some tubers for sale in plastic bags, and I was so annoyed I passed them by, but luckily, I got some now.

  3. Meems said,

    July 27, 2009 at 7:29 am

    Hi Jan,
    So happy for you – your pinecones are so pretty!
    I LOVE my pinecone ginger. My sweet neighbor gave me my first start. I have divided it and moved it to more places in the garden. Mine is a variegated variety with a creamy edging on each of the leaves which works well for me in my tropicalesque garden.

    You are going to love yours as it continues to develop throughout the summer.
    Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

    • Jan said,

      July 31, 2009 at 7:52 pm

      Thanks, Meems, you have encouraged me. Mine has spread a little more than last year, so that is a good sign. I do want it to grow into a bigger clump. I haven’t seen the variegated variety; I’ll have to look it up.

  4. Phillip said,

    July 27, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Very cool plant – I want to see it when it turns red.

    • Jan said,

      July 31, 2009 at 7:49 pm

      I’ll post a picture when they start turning red, Phillip. I can’t wait to see if they look like the photos I seen in books.

  5. August 5, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    The pinecone ginger looks very interesting, Jan – glad you had a couple of cones. Did your white Hedychium/ Butterfly ginger make buds? They’re on top of the leaf stalk, not emerging from the ground, but have a similar look, but flatter, maybe?

    Even though the pinecone ginger might be hardy here, I’ll just watch you grow this ginger and not look for one… had to dig up some of my Butterfly ginger from the front garden to pot and set in shade. So hot and dry it was withering in the ground.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    • Jan said,

      August 6, 2009 at 8:06 pm

      Annie, my butterfly ginger started blooming about a week ago, and I posted about it today. Their buds don’t look quite the same; the pinecone ginger really looks like a green pinecone.
      I know you poor people of Texas have really had the hot and dry weather, so I am not surprised you had to move your ginger. We have had hot, dry weather, too, but not like you all. I hope you get some relief soon.
      Because of our lack of rain, I am not keeping as many pot plants as before; they just dry out too fast, and I can’t keep up so things are going in the ground.

  6. Walt said,

    August 19, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Aloha, Pinecone ginger is called Shampoo ginger in hawaii. It grows wild in the upper areas, in shade under the forest trees. As a kid I remember quite a lot of it in the Mt. Tantalus area above Honolulu. The “shampoo” name is an “honest” one. It “soaps” up nicely, and it would be a cool way to refresh yourself during a hike, nice smelling. it’s good to hear it is doing well in the South.

  7. Jeanette Alleman said,

    May 7, 2011 at 8:46 am

    I live in the lower south of Louisiana. How do I plant these roots and are they to be planted in a shady or sunny spot?

    • Jan said,

      May 8, 2011 at 8:52 am

      Jeanette, these are planted like regular ginger – about two inches below the soil line. Partial sun is fine; mine are in a fairly shady spot but do well. They can take sun, but be sure to keep them watered. I love mine – great foliage and the “pinecones” are fabulous.

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