Common Name
Red Ginger

Hawaiian Name
'Awapuhi 'ula 'ula

Scientific Name
Alpinia purpurata




Whole Plant



Location On Campus

 Is located at Kaiona near the stairs. It is right next to a cement wall.

Natural Habitat

 The 'awapuhi is found in valleys and on the windward sides of islands. They live in wet areas where it rains a lot but can grow in dry areas as well.

Cultural Information

'The 'awapuhi is Polynesian introduced. Red ginger leis were worn by  royalty in important ceremonies. The Hawaiians would use the stems as medicine. They would grind them and add water, then strain the mixture. When drunk, it could cure stomach aches.

Plant Description


  • Underground stem


  • Herbaceous stem
  • A rhizome


  • 30-70 cm long
  • Simple leaves
  • Entire margin
  • Pinnate venation


  • White in color
  • Red part known as bracts
  • 2.5 cm thick
  • 5- 7 cm. long


  • About 10-15 cm long


  • Insects

Life Cycle/

  • Development of small plantlets, aerial offshoots from the side of the red bracts
  • Red bracts are what most people think is the flower
  • Bracts become a pouch bearing several plantlets
  • Grow fast and soon weigh down the mature stem
  • Roots of seedlings sink in ground and starts a new generation of red ginger


  • Root cuttings should be kept in a warm place, not in full sun
  • Temperature at 50ºF minimum at night
  • Root should be planted 5 cm below surface
  • General fertilizer applied once a month.

Interesting Facts:

  • Salt and rhizomes are mashed together and used to treat headaches
  • Sugar will extend their post harvest life by at least a week

Web Site Links

Canoe Plants of Ancient Hawai'i: 'Awapuhi Kuahiwi

This site has some history about the ginger and how it was used for different things.

Flower Notebook

This site describes the Zingiberaceae family with totally cool pictures!

Tips for Tropical Trees, Plants, & Flowers From Hawaii That You Can Grow!: Ginger

This site teaches how to grow ginger.



 Gwinn, Robert P. "Ginger." The New Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 1987.

Kepler, Angela K. Exotic Tropicals of Hawaii. Honolulu: Mutual Publishing, 1989.

 Kuck, Loraine E., and Richard C. Tong. Hawaiian Flowers and Flowering Trees: A Guide to Tropical and Semi Tropical Floras. Rutland: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1962.

 Native Plants Used as Medicines in Hawaii. Beatrice H. Krauss, Web manager. 28 Feb 2000. <>

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