Awapuhi/Shampoo Ginger (Zingiber zerumbet)


Zingiber zerumbet, ‘Awapuhi or Shampoo Ginger, is a perennial multipurpose herbaceous plant. The shoots, rhizomes and inflorescence liquid are all consumable. The rhizome has traditionally been used in medicinal applications as an anti-inflammatory, anti-diarrheal, de-wormer, and for various types of pain management. The liquid from the inflorescence is drinkable. Perhaps the most well known use for ‘awapuhi is the inflorescence liquid as shampoo or conditioner for the hair and skin, as it provides a soothing, shiny and smoothing effect. This ginger relative grows to heights of about two to four feet. Like some other gingers, ‘awapuhi dies back annually to store its energy in its roots/rhizomes. From these rhizomes, the plant re-sprouts in spring, when the weather is ideal for them. ‘Awaphui can form dense thickets, so allow them to have a lot of space, or plan to manage them annually. Despite its tendency to spread, it has not been included on any invasive species lists and has been on the islands for over 1,000 years (i.e.: it’s generally not a problematic plant).

To utilize the liquid from the inflorescence: use a cup or jar and hand-squeeze the inflorescence until the juice comes out. Milking may be done repeatedly if left on the plant. If using as shampoo, you may or may not decide to rinse out the liquid dependent upon your desires.

Hand squeeze to milk inflorescence


‘Awapuhi does not produce seed and is only propagated by division. Dig up rhizomes when dormant; divide and replant for plant replication in a separate area. Rhizomes spread on their own naturally.

Rhizomes sprouting


This plant is very carefree. Plant it, let it grow and watch the flowers emerge. This plant will thrive in heavy shade and waterlogged soils. In other words, it can be planted in places where most plants will not live.


Shoots are spicy and consist of the still folded leaves as they emerge. Mature rhizomes are intensely bitter; young rhizomes are not as powerful.

Where to obtain planting materials

Ask a friend growing the plant for some rhizomes! I’ve seen this plant for sale at local nurseries, too. ‘Awapuhi is pretty easy to find, as it was a canoe plant, an ancient Polynesian introduction into Hawaii.

My Garden

When I first started my garden, I was really interested in finding all the Polynesian canoe plants. It took me awhile before I found my first ‘awapuhi plant. But finally, I got a small bit of rhizome from a neighbor that slowly established itself. A few months later, another friend gave me a bunch of his harvested “edible ginger” (Zingiber officinale). I went to eat some of the ginger and it was so intense! I used too much of it and made my meal unpalatable. For a few months, I was confused about that whole situation until I allowed some of the rhizomes he gave me to grow out. As soon as the flower came out, I knew what had happened! I accidently ate ‘awapuhi! At least I obtained some amazing medicinal benefits from that experience. Two years later, I was able to dig up that original clump and spread it around to create many more plants, some of which I planted in a waterway where not many other plants want to grow. Now I get it watch it thrive and utilize the many flowers it creates!!

Happy Gardening!

36 thoughts on “Awapuhi/Shampoo Ginger (Zingiber zerumbet)

  1. dear sir,
    my hobby is all 42 year medicinal plants;,have so a 180 sort, as hobby;Iam 82 years old ;Iam looking after these plant ; awapuhi -kuahiwi >>>can jou help:
    so yes ,what is the price + sent cost;
    Or a address where I can buy;
    thanks and greeting Of a natureman roger ►► have so a 2 a 30 rare plants

  2. Have you ever heard of anyone storing the mucilage long term? I pressure can food and was wondering if I could do the same with the awapuhi liquid.

  3. I have purchased this & want to plant, wanted to know if outside vs potted, which is better; will be using for hair, it smells so good can I use the ginger in my healthy drinks?
    Thanks in advance for your help.

  4. How often would you say you watered this plant and how did the amount of watering change throughout its growth cycle? I live in a zone 7 so I think I have to grow it indoors. Greatly appreciate your knowledge and help!

    • You can freeze it in ice cubes and let thaw when you want to use it. I canned(pressure cooked) some a few weeks ago but want to “let it set” for a while to see if it stays fresh or goes rancid. I don’t plan on opening up yet but will let you know when I do.

    • The first year I harvested the liquid I keep it in the fridge in a half gallon jar. The second year I harvested three times as much and froze it in ice cube trays. This year I harvested a couple gallons and froze it in plastic quart bags . That was all I had room for. It seems to keep fine in a quart jar until I use it. Not sure that it would even go bad if it’s filtered. I use a mesh bag from my wine making equipment to filter it, but any closely woven fabric should work. Coffee filters take forever and the liquid is often too thick to penetrate the filter.

  5. Where do commercial shampoo and conditioner manufacturers source their Awapui for their products. I have seen it as an ingredient in several higher end products and just wondering if it would be a good cash crop or if it replenished soils since it grows from rhizomes? I’m very interested in herbal and plant based medicines. And stumbled upon “Shampoo Ginger” quite by accident. I recall my grandmother raised it in her backyard garden but only as an exotic ornamental.

  6. Hi,

    I just bought these seeds called Beehive awapuhi and been searching online how to grow them but getting frustrated, not sure ifI should just scatter them in one pot or soak them overnight, any ideas? I would really appreciate it, thanks.

    • im assuming your seeds are not awaphui, but rather beehive ginger, Zingiber spectabilis. most gingers love water. id soak over night because they probably werent fresh seeds. and surface sow/lightly press the seeds in a single small pot. water daily but dont loose the seeds by over watering. a truly amazing ornamental plant. good luck!

  7. I have four tall stalks and I didn’t cut them back during the winter but they did well inside my home… I now want to take them outside but not sure if I should plant in yard or keep in pots … Please advise

    • i leave mine in the ground and they are dormant at least 5 months. mine are starting to come up right now. may seems to be the month of most rhizomes coming up. it should be very soon, they love water so keep watering them

  8. Hi,

    I planted my rhizomes in March 2022, they grew and during the winter season it went dormant so now they are sprouting back, some died like my pink maraca but it’s okay I can always purchase again so my question is, how soon will it start to bloom? I can’t wait to see the beautiful fragrant inflorescence.

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