Versatile Ginger – from Curative Powers to Shampoo!


Red Ginger - Alpinia purpurata

Red Ginger – Jungle King variety (Alpinia purpurata)

Zingiber is a member of the Zingiberaceae family, which includes about 40 genera of tropical gingers native to Malaysia, Indonesia, eastern Asia and Australia. In addition to cut flowers, these plants are grown for the culinary uses of their aromatic rhizomes. The genus name Zingiber is derived from a Sanskrit word “singivera” meaning “horn-shaped,” referring to the bracts that make up the blossoms.

Alpinia was named for Prospero Alpino, an Italian physician and botanist who traveled throughout the Greek islands and Egypt in the late 16th century.

Commonly known as red ginger (although there are both red and pink varieties), Alpinia purpurata (pronounced al-PIN-ee-a pur-pur-AH-tuh) is grown for its unusual linear flower heads (bracts). These tropicals rise from clumps of knobby rhizomes, sometimes reaching 10 feet in height. There are two varieties: ‘Jungle King’ (red) and ‘Jungle Queen’ (pink).  Red gingers are available year-round from various growing areas. Most red gingers sold in the United States probably come from Hawaii, but they also are commercially grown in Colombia, Costa Rica and other warm climates. Red gingers must be harvested and chosen at their peak of maturity since they do not develop further once cut. Look for blossoms with high gloss and vivid color; avoid those that are creased or marred. Don’t purchase red gingers too far in advance.

Pine-cone or Shampoo Ginger - Zerumbet

Pine-cone or Shampoo Ginger (Zerumbet)

The genus Zingiber, pronounced “zin-ji-bur,” produces two species that are popular tropical cut flowers: Z. zerumbet, commonly known as pine-cone ginger or shampoo ginger, and Z. spectabile, commonly known as beehive ginger. Zerumbet is commonly known as shampoo ginger because of the creamy liquid substance in its “cones” that is used as a shampoo throughout Asia and in Hawaii, and as an ingredient in several commercial shampoos. The substance is an excellent natural hair conditioner. These plants have long narrow leaves that are similar to ti leaves. Cone-shaped inflorescences that resemble pine cones or small beehives grow from the ground on separate stalks. The true flowers appear as small florets that emerge from the bracts as they mature.

Gingers are graded by stem length and bloom size.
Ginger Small: 80 cm stem with bloom size of 12 – 14 cm.
Ginger Medium: 90 cm stem with bloom size of 15 – 18 cm.
Ginger Large: 100 cm stem with bloom size of 19 – 23 cm.

If you’ve purchased Ginger as a cut flower and the flowers seem dehydrated, submerge them in room-temperature water for 20 minutes. Next, re-cut the stems, and place them into properly prepared flower food solution. There is no evidence that Gingers benefit from hydration solutions.

Gingers are chill sensitive, the blooms will turn a bluish or grayish color if they are held at temperatures lower than 13C.

Red Ginger - Jungle Queen variety - Alpinia purpurata

Red Ginger – Jungle Queen variety (Alpinia purpurata)

Gingers are also geotropic: when stored horizontally or diagonally, the flower tips will bend upward. To prevent this response, keep the stems upright.

Gingers like humidity and occasional misting is recommended.

Their unusual tropical appeal makes them a flower of interest for dramatic, contemporary and masculine designs for all seasons.

The Ginger’s long vase life makes them a good choice for commercial designs and other arrangements that need to last for extended periods.

Because of stem thickness and bloom size and weight, use the densest floral foam available when designing with gingers in foam, and reinforce it with chicken wire, if possible.

Gingers can last for six to 14 days if properly cared for. It is beneficial to re-cut the stems and change the flower food solution every other day. If this step is taken, Gingers can last for up to three weeks. Re-submerging these flowers occasionally will extend their vase life.

Ginger’s curative powers rival its culinary uses. It is a component in more than half of all traditional Chinese herbal remedies. Throughout Hawaii and the rest of Polynesia, it is used to treat stomach aches and indigestion, morning sickness, motion sickness, toothaches, sprains and other pain. Commercially, it also is used as a natural preservative and a meat tenderizer as well as the aforementioned shampoo ingredient.

About Lesley Lowry

I love flowers! I enjoy writing about them as well as gardening. Mostly I love finding new and unique flower gardening ideas I encourage you to post regularly on this blog, and send in guest blogs or ideas for new blogs as well. New and exciting blogs are always welcome I intend to post a lot of interesting facts and fun stuff about flowers, as well as info on many varieties of flowers.
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3 Responses to Versatile Ginger – from Curative Powers to Shampoo!

  1. Pingback: Escape Winter With These Tropical Flowers | Grower Direct Fresh Cut Flowers Presents…

  2. Pingback: Costus (Spiral Ginger) | funflowerfacts

  3. Pingback: Alpinia galanga | Find Me A Cure

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