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

Gingersrus Database Taxon ID 3354

Costus villosissimus

OLD NAME: Costus villosissimus

NEW NAME: Costus villosissimus


FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME: Costus villosissimus Jacq.

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.)

- Zinziber villosissimum floribus luteis Plum., Mscr. 5: t. 34; Costus nr. 7 Aubl. (1775) - Costus septimus Aubl. ex Roem. & Schult. (1817) - Costus hirsutus C.Presl (1827) - Costus friedrichsenii Petersen (1893)

Costus villosissimus is an accepted species of neotropical Costus with a rather interesting taxonomic history. It was first published in 1775 as "Paco-Caatinga villosissima-flore luteo Zinziber villosissimum florigus luteus" in the Histoire des Plantes de la Guiane Francoise. Dr. Maas has selected as its type the Plate 34 which was based on material collected in St. Vincent. It is recognized by the long, villose hairs on all vegetative parts, the hairy green bracts with hairy triangular appendages, and the large broad-labellum pure yellow flowers. This species is easily identified and the only confusion comes from the occasional natural hybrids where this is one of the parent species. This species tends to hybridize easily with others and I have seen natural hybrids in the wild as well as having made hybrids myself using this species.

Costus villosissimus is a widespread species growing over an area from Costa Rica in the north to southern Ecuador and east into Venezuela. I have found Costus villosissimus to be quite uniform in appearance throughout its range. It flowers during the rainy season. I completed an IUCN Red List assessment of this species in 2014 and it is classified as Least Concern. The assessment can be found at

A preliminary phylogeny was completed by Eugenio Valderrama and his associates in the Chelsea Specht Lab at Cornell University and was published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science in September 2022. Costus villosissimus has been well sampled for DNA and whole genome sequencing has been produced by my collection R3074 from soutern Ecuador. In the phylogeny tree it is in a well supported clade in a lineage that includes several suspected natural hybrids, indicating that it is one of the parents.

I think it would be very interesting to research the polination preferences of this species. The shape of the flowers would indicate it to be bee-pollinated, but I have often seen it visited by hummingbirds and some of the hybrids are with bird pollinated species.

Based on information at the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) this species is in ex situ cultivation at 21 botanical gardens world wide. I have found this species to be relatively easy to grow in my garden and greenhouses at Le Jardín Ombrage.

ACCESSIONS:Click links (if any) to see details of individual collections. R1580- R3074- R3225- R3245- R3309- R3357- R3372- R3551-

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Photos (if available) of Taxon ID 3354
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Costus villossissimus, photo by Skinner in Costa Rica, Parque Nacional La Cangreja - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 329 Accession# R0
Costus villossissimus, photo by Skinner in Costa Rica, Parque Nacional La Cangreja

Costus villosissimus, photo by Skinner, Inaturalist 3799907, Costa Rica - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 330 Accession# R0
Costus villosissimus, photo by Skinner, Inaturalist 3799907, Costa Rica