Botanical name: Zingiber zerumbet Family: Zingiberaceae (Ginger family)
Synonyms: Amomum zerumbet, Zerumbet zingiber, Amomum silvestre
Shampoo Ginger is a perennial herb characterized by pinecone-like heads of bracts from which white flowers emerge. On maturity the heads turns bright red and exude a wonderfully thick liquid with an equally wonderful fragrance. And, in fact, the liquid makes an excellent shampoo, thus its common name Shampoo Ginger. The 10-12 elliptic-lanceshaped leaves, 15-20 cm long, grow in an alternate arrangement on thin, upright stem. Among the leafy stems the conical or club-shaped flower heads form on separate and shorter stalks. These appear in the summer, after the leafy stems have been growing for awile. The flower heads are reddish-green 3-10 cm long with overlapping scales, enclosing small yellowish-white flowers that poke out a few at a time. The flowers are inconspicuous, 3-petaled, and creamish in color. The flower stalks usually remain hidden beneath the leaf stalks. This plant, originating in India, was distributed eastward through Polynesia and introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in the canoes of early Polynesian settlers. Shampoo Ginger grows in moist, shaded, forested areas.
Medicinal uses: In Hawaii the spicy-smelling fresh rhizomes were pounded and used as medicine for indigestion and other ailments. In traditional use, the rhizome was ground in a stone mortar with a stone pestle, was mixed with a ripe Noni fruit and then used to treat severe sprains. The pulp was placed in a cloth and loosely bound around the injured area. For a toothache or a cavity, the cooked and softened rhizome was pressed into the hollow and left for as long as was needed. To ease a stomach ache, the ground and strained rhizome material is mixed with water and drunk.
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