In 2016, the well-known Costus expert, Dr. Paul Maas published a monograph of the African Costus plants, and there were many changes including new species described and old species determined to be synonyms of other species. This page includes some species names that are no longer "accepted" species, but are widely cultivated under the synonym names. I do not have photos of some accepted species, so a dummy thumbnail is shown in its place.
African Costus are a pretty mixed-up group. There are some very similar-looking plants that normally flower at the base with green bracts and mostly white flowers, very hard to tell apart. A key character is whether they produce one flower per bract or two flowers per bract. This can be difficult to see without breaking apart the inflorescence to see if there is one or two calyx under a single bract.
There are some thin-stemmed, vine-like Costus that flower laterally at the leaf nodes, as well as at the base with small but beautiful flowers in yellow, pink and white. These plants are well suited to growing in hanging baskets.
Finally there is Costus spectabilis, a deciduous plant that produces a bright yellow flower at the center of a rosette of large leaves that hug the surface of the ground.
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