Local September 7, 2022

The Mo’olelo of the ‘Awapuhi Kuahiwi

If you’ve gone hiking around Hawai’i, then you might have come across a curious-looking plant with a beautiful, bright bloom. Locally known as ‘awapuhi or “shampoo ginger”, this plant originated in India and migrated through Polynesia before early settlers brought it to Hawai’i. Every single part of this plant was used in ancient Hawai’i from cooking to medicinal uses, and body care.

The most popular use for ‘awapuhi today is as a shampoo. The thick, slightly sudsy extract can be squeezed out of the flower and applied directly to your hair. It repairs dry and damaged hair, nourishes the scalp, and helps to bring out the shine of your hair. Paul Mitchell (from the famous hair care line) was so captivated by the benefits of ‘awapuhi that he established a self-sustaining ‘awapuhi farm in Hawai’i in 1983 to produce the plant for use in his line of hair care products.

‘Awapuhi is also known by other names, such as pinecone ginger, bitter ginger, and wild ginger. It can be found in many beauty products today but for centuries it has been a standard in traditional Hawai’ian beauty care.