‘Awapuhi (Shampoo Ginger) - Maui Ocean Center

Park Hours
9 AM - 5 PM

Park Hours 9 AM - 5 PM

‘Awapuhi (Shampoo Ginger)

‘Awapuhi is characterized by tall, cane-like stems that can reach heights of up to six feet.

The plant produces cone-shaped clusters of flowers, with the bracts surrounding the flowers resembling ginger roots. These bracts are what give the plant its nickname “shampoo ginger.”


Cultural Significance


‘Awapuhi is not native to Hawaiʻi. It was introduced to the Hawaiian Islands by Polynesians during their historic voyages of exploration and settlement. Polynesians are believed to have brought various plant species, including ‘Awapuhi, with them as they colonized different islands in the Pacific, including Hawaiʻi.


The introduction of plants like ‘awapuhi was part of the Polynesian strategy to establish sustainable ecosystems in their new environments. These introduced plants served various purposes, including providing food, medicine, and materials for daily life.


The Polynesian migration to Hawaiʻi is estimated to have occurred between approximately 1400 BC and 12 AD. During this period, Polynesians navigated the vast Pacific Ocean using traditional wayfinding techniques, likely carrying plants and animals with them on their voyaging canoes.


Medical Uses


‘Awapuhi is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. Traditionally, the plant has been used to make compresses applied to sore spots, bruises, and areas with inflammation. ‘Awapuhi has been used to address various skin conditions and can be applied topically to treat ringworm and other skin diseases.


Additionally, ​​the clear, fragrant liquid extracted from the ‘awapuhi plant has long been used as a natural shampoo and conditioner. It is known for its cleansing and moisturizing properties, leaving the hair soft and shiny.

common Name


Scientific Name

Zingiber zerumbet



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