As we move into the middle of August, I am watching the cone-shaped flower heads of the shampoo ginger in my backyard starting to turn red. Lying low in winter during its dormant period, Zingiber zerumbet begins to wake up in the late spring, its rhizomes sending out shoots with soft and pliant leaves, and interestingly, the flowers on separate stalks. Little tufts of yellow-white flowers have been blooming on it, a few at a time, all summer. With a gentle squeeze, I can feel it filling with its aromatic gel, which can be rubbed into one's skin and hair for a bit of shine. You can leave it in your hair, or wash it out. 'Awapuhi kuahiwi was a Polynesian introduction, and many parts of the plant were used for medicinal purposes, as well as for scenting kapa and flavoring meat. On the Big Island, the John Paul Mitchell company cultivates it for use in their hair products. Lucky for me, the small stand of it that is growing happily in a shady area of the yard keeps me well supplied.
welcomes you to visit with the all the wonderful flora and fauna that we share this lovely aina with.