This page contains photos and description of a species, form or cultivar of Costaceae.

Gingersrus Database Taxon ID 3042

Hellenia speciosa

OLD NAME: Cheilocostus speciosus

NEW NAME: Hellenia speciosa


FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME: Hellenia speciosa (J.Koenig) Govaerts (per KEW)

STATUS : accepted


FIELD OBSERVATIONS:(If field observations are available, you can click on the link to open in a new window.)

PHOTOS:(If photos are available, you can click on the link to open in a new window.)

- Cheilocostus speciosus var. glabra - Cheilocostus speciosus var. Angustifolia - Cheilocostus speciosus var. hirsuta - Cheilocostus speciosus var. lasiocalyx - Cheilocostus speciosus var. sericea (subvar leiocalyx) - Cheilocostus speciosus var. Malesien

This very popular garden plant can be found all over the world in tropical or subtropical areas. In Latin America it is more popular than the many beautiful native species, and most people do not realize that it is an exotic there. As explained in more detail below, there are many different forms of this species and the botanists really need to complete a study to distinguish them as separate species or varieties. As of now, they have been all lumped together as Cheilocostus speciosus.

Dr. PJM Maas, in Notes on Asiatic and Australian Costoidae, Blumea 25 (1979) 543-549: Maas lists several synonyms. He asserts that the Australian Costus potierae is not a separate species from C. speciosus. Rosemary Smith disagrees.

Schumann describes this species and places in subgenus Eucostus - Das Pflanzenreich IV, 1904. He lists the following varieties of Costus speciosus:
Var. glabra
Var. Angustifolia
Var. hirsuta
Var. lasiocalyx
Var. sericea (subvar leiocalyx)
Var. Malesien

- The Palm House at Sefton Park (UK) - has a limited edition fine art print on a cream heavyweight paper, size A3 (297x420mm) A native of Malaysia, this member of the ginger family can only be grown in a hothouse in this country where, on account of its size, it takes up a lot of room. It was originally named in 1791 by Sir James Edward Smith from a plant collected by J. Koenig in southern India, where it may have been cultivated. The pencil note at the base refers to another illustration of this species in Sydenham Teast Edwards' Botanical Register, which was published in either 1822 or 1823.

Also described in Flora of China, Vol. 24 (Flagellariaceae-Marantaceae). Science Press & Missouri Botanical Garden.

KEW BORNEO PROJECT - plants collected at Brunei Darussalam, on the north-western coast of the island of Borneo. C. speciosus (J.Konig) Sm. - Badui (Dus.), Tumid Entalun (Dus.) Herb · VEG: HDF, Secondary Forest · HAB: near running fresh water · GEO: Lambir formation, Setap Shales; stony · ALT: 70 m · USES: Edible shoot, Edible shoot, used to make soap BEL: Labi, Rampayoh, Cowley 100. TEM: Amo, Batu Apoi Forest Reserve, Poulsen 54; Amo, sg.Temburong, Sands 5560; Bukok, Forman 937. TUT: Rambai, Tasek Merimbun, Bernstein 134; Rambai, Tasek Merimbun, Bernstein 176; Rambai, Tasek Merimbun, Bernstein 450; Rambai, Tasek Merimbun, Bernstein 256. Without prov.: van Niel 3938 · India, W & C Malesia

Listed as a naturalized species in Hawaii by the Biota of North America Program.

From Tim Chapman - Some forms of Costus speciosus have a natural dormancy in winter and some do not. "Most cultivated forms are from monsoonal areas and do go dormant, ones from year round wet areas don't. IE. the pink speciosus is from java, it doesn't like going dormant, and I think would prefer to stay up year round." Tim says the forms that are naturally dormant can be stored dry through the winter.

THE TROPICAL LOOK - From India and SE Asia, root hardy zone 9, grows to 9 ft. There are several forms.

R3320 received from Brian O'Neil of Norfolk Botanical Gardens, has been vouchered at the UC Berkeley, Jepsen Herbarium, UC2045844.

ACCESSIONS:Click links (if any) to see details of individual collections. R2950- R3056- R3170- R3289- R3320-

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Photos (if available) of Taxon ID 3042
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Cheilocostus speciosus (cultivated plant from Norfolk Bot. Garden) - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 592 Accession# R0
Cheilocostus speciosus (cultivated plant from Norfolk Bot. Garden)