Pinecone ginger (Zingiber zerumbet) is an erect, evergreen rhizomatous tropical perennial that grows up to 4-6 feet tall. Pinecone ginger originated in India but can be found globally throughout the tropics and in Florida’s subtropical gardens.
Characteristics/Features of pinecone ginger:
Pinecone ginger is usually found with one flower head, but when grown in more fertile soil and with more consistent water, it may produce more. In the family Zingiberaceae, this fragrant ornamental perennial has leafy shoots that rise from thick rhizomes (underground stems), the plant forms bulbs that divide into rhizomes called “fingers”. These knobby, yellow-brown rhizomes are highly aromatic and valued in cooking for their spicy-sweet fragrance. And clusters of tiny cream-colored flowers that bloom around summertime. Its leaves can grow up to 3 feet long with a pointed tip, making it a beautiful addition to any yard.
A popular choice for pollinator gardens, pinecone gingers reproduce readily by seeds or rhizomes and can spread quickly under ideal conditions. As the name suggests, each flower cluster is shaped like a pinecone and bears an orange-colored stem that gives it the appearance of a lantern when hung down over a plant or container. The pineapple-scented blooms can be pink or white, but all have a touch of red at the tips of their petals and where the six petals meet at the center of the flower. The fruit itself does not resemble an actual pine cone in shape; instead, it is closer to a tabasco pepper. The pinecone-shaped flower buds open white and then take on a rosy hue as they mature. In flower arrangements, you can cut stems with flowers and floating leaves and drop them into a vase. The bracts may be pink, red, or white depending on the variety. Although these are generally hardy plants with few pest issues, cane rot can lead to long-term problems.
Pinecone gingers thrive in subtropical climates and make excellent garden plants during hot summers. They should be protected during cold periods such as freezes or frosts. Completely dormant in winter, it needs to be kept dry while dormant. It is commonly grown as a houseplant or it does well in a container that can be brought indoors over the winter. When growing in the ground in northern climates, remove from the soil and store in a paper bag, and keep dry.
Applications of Pinecone Ginger:
Pinecone Ginger is an herbal product made from an extract of the pinecone plant. In general, the term “pinecone plant” refers to any one of several herbs that have been used medicinally, as well as for culinary purposes, in different parts of the world. The culinary and medicinal uses of the Pinecone Ginger are many, with a history dating back to ancient Egyptian times. International cuisine has found appreciation for its essential oils, which find their way into perfumes, flavoring, and even insect repellants.
The leaves were traditionally used as a perfume by Indonesians, while the nutritious rhizomes were utilized in a brown sugar-based medicine by Chinese herbalists. It normally grows in clusters (you’ll notice multiple cones at the tips of their stalks), and squeezing or cutting into the cones releases a fragrant and gingery liquid that has the viscosity of oil but is transparent. The oils from the rhizome are used in making perfumed soaps and other toilet articles. This herb water is traditionally used for indigestion, used to cure dyspepsia, to help treat sprains and toothache, on your skin, and after washing your hair. You can also use it as a tonic to make your hair shiny and lustrous.
In modern times, pinecone ginger is grown as a landscape ornamental & for its medicinal properties. This upright growing plant makes an ideal choice for gardens with damp soil or for container plantings. It is a versatile item that can be used for making a tasty snack or you may drink it, as certain indigenous tribes do.