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

Gingersrus Database Taxon ID 3351

Costus allenii

OLD NAME: Costus allenii

NEW NAME: Costus allenii

NAME CHANGE NOTES: A form with plicate leaves that was previously included in Costus allenii will be proposed as a separate new species Costus alleniopsis.

FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME: Costus allenii Maas

STATUS : accepted

CONTINENT: Neotropical

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.)


The holotype of Costus alleniiwas collected by P. H. Allen in 1946 at Camp Pina in Colon, Panama. This is on the western side of the Lago Gatun near the town of Escoval and in the southern most part of the San Lorenzon National Park. Costus allenii is most common in central Panama where it grows in areas of high annual rainfall and flowers in the rainy season. It is also recorded in Costa Rica and western Colombia. This species comes closest to Cotus kuntzei in appearance and shares the same non-appendaged bracts and red-striped open labellum, adaxially oriented flowers, but differs mainly by the indument as it is densely covered all over with brown hirsute hairs. It is also similar to the new species Costus antioquiensis which also has an adaxial oriented flower, but is distinguishable by the hairs which are not as dense covering the entire plant.

I have seen this species near its type locality in central Panama along the Panama Canal and also along the Rio Guanche and other places in province Colón. In the proposed revision, we are splitting out as a sp. nov. a form found in Veraguas, Panama that is shorter and has plicate leaves. I have also seen C. allenii in Colombia along the Pacific coast near Bahia Solano. Its form seems to be fairly consistent, best recognized and distinguished by the non-appendaged bracts with adaxially oriented, open-labellum flowers and densely covered with brown hairs throughout.

DNA sampling has been completed for all of these similar looking species: Costus allenii , Costus alleniopsis, Costus kuntzei (formerly known as C. laevis) and Costus sp. nov. antioquiensis. The phylogeny tree supports these as separate species with C. allenii and C. sp. nov. alleniopsis being closely related, then C. kuntzei in a separate lineage and C. sp. nov. antioquiensis in yet another separate lineage.

A study conducted by Doug Schemske found that these two species (C. kuntzei, (f/k/a C. laevis) and C. allenii) share the same pollinator and despite having identical flower morphology they do not seem to cross hybridize.

    The hypothesis that the understory herbs Costus allenii and C. laevis (Zingiberaceae) have converged in floral characteristics to use the same pollinator was investigated in central Panama. Observations and experiments indicated that these species (1) occupy the same habitats, (2) flower synchronously, (3) are identical in flower color, morphology, and nectar secretion patterns, (4) share the same pollinator, the bee Euglossa imperialis, (5) are self-compatible, but not autogamous, and (6) have strong barriers to hybridization.

Based on information at the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) this species is in ex situ cultivation at 6 botanical gardens world wide. I have found this species to be somewhat difficult to grow here.

ACCESSIONS:Click links (if any) to see details of individual collections. R2851- R3229- R3305- R3350- R3351-

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Photos (if available) of Taxon ID 3351
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Costus allenii type specimen - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 452 Accession# R0
Costus allenii type specimen

Costus allenii, photo from Skinner R3350, from Gamboa, Panama - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 153 Accession# R3350
Costus allenii, photo from Skinner R3350, from Gamboa, Panama