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

Gingersrus Database Taxon ID 3430

Costus afer Ker Gawl.

OLD NAME: Costus afer Ker Gawl.

NEW NAME: Costus afer Ker Gawl.


FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME: Costus afer Ker Gawl.

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.)

- Costus sarmentosus Bojer (1835) - Costus trachyphyllus K.Schum. (1892) - Costus edulis De Wild. & T.Durand in Durand & De Wildeman (1899) - Costus oblitterans K.Schum. (1904) - Costus deistelii K.Schum. (1904) - Costus subbiflorus K.Schum. (1904) - Costus pterometra K.Schum. (1904) - Costus anomocalyx K.Schum. (1904) - Costus megalobractea K.Schum. (1904) - Costus bingervillensis A.Chev. (1920) - Costus insularis A.Chev. (1920)

This African species is recognized in Paul Maas' monograph on African Costaceae, published on 16 December 2016. (Monograph of African Costaceae, H. Maas-van de Kamer, P.J.M. Maas, J.J. Wieringa, C.D. Specht, Blumea 61, 2016: 280 - 318,

This is an accepted African species of Costus, described as early as 1822. It is one of the species that produces two flowers per bract. It was included in J. Koechlin's Flore du Gabon (1964) and also in his Flore du Cameroun (1965). It is described as growing to 2-3 meters tall, with ligules to 10 mm, leaves glabrous on both sides. The inflorescence is described as being terminal but the plant in cultivation that has been identified as C. afer is also known to flower both at the base and terminal. This is one of the African species that produces two flowers per bract. The calyx is green tinged with red, 15-18 mm long. Flowers are white.

The type is from Sierra Leone and GBIF data indicates it is widespread with 175 collection records from the following countries: Tanzania, Uganda, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Gabon, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Liberia and Senegal.

The African Plant Database lists this species. Ecology : M oist places in forest; forest edges; roadsides; swampy places in transitional forest with Aningeria altissima; riverine forest; wet muddy area in ravine; rain-forest; forming dense, large stands along rivers; 50-1700 m alt. Variable. Single cone-like inflorescences arise terminally either on leafy shoots or on leafless shoots directly from the rhizome (named C. prodigiosus). The inflorescence bracts bear either 2, or only 1 flower (named C. littoralis). Distinctive, decorative species with considerable horticultural appeal (cf. Flow. Pl. Afr., l.c.). Often planted in gardens; with a few cultivars. Stems are used to weave table mats. Plant also used in traditional medicine (see Burkill, l.c.). Bioko/Fernando Poo, S. Tome, Príncipe.

There are several African species that are easily confused with each other as they are superficially similar looking. The various names and PIDs where information is stored on this website are as follows:
Costus afer - PID 3430 - 2 flowers per bract
Costus albus - PID 4868 - single flower per bract
Costus dallachyi - on tag at National Tropical Botanic Garden
Costus deistelii - PID 3754
Costus dinklagei - PID 7279
Costus dubius - PID3597 - single flower per bract
Costus maculatus - PID 3604 - two flowers per bract
Costus megalobractea - PID 3755
These plants have also been circulated from Europeon botanical gardens originating at the Severoceska Bot. Garden in Czech Republic under the name Tapeinochilos spectabile - believed to actually be Costus maculatus.

Flora of Tropical Africa, 1898 - describes this species. Widely distributed.

Schumann describes this species and places in subgenus Eucostus - Das Pflanzenreich IV, 1904.

Flora of Spanish Guinea - Isle de Fernando Poo, shaded areas, as far as Gabon.

Flora of West Tropical Africa, (1936) - confused with C. lucanusianus, C. dubius and others.

W3Tropicos - - specimens collected in:
GABON = Specimen data: Herbs 1-3 m; flowers white, corolla lobes pink, a patch of yellow on the lower lobe;
GHANA = Specimen data: Herb up to 2.5 m high, in forest ede. Leaves papery coriaceous. Perianth whie, larger lobes with red edge and yellow between the red and white. ; Specimen data: Herb to 1 m; inflorescence erect, red-maroon in bud; petals white with yellow patch inside; bracts with red line along apex edge; calyx white with red apical edge.; Specimen data: Herb; 1.5 erect from stout root. Leaves thick, glossy, dark green above, paler below. Flowers from basal stem. Flowering bracts green, with red margins. Corolla white with yellow center spot, tissue thin. Streamside.;Specimen data: Herb up to 2 m high. Leaves coriaceous. Flowers slightly fragrant. Calyx green. Petals yellow.; Specimen data: Widespread but not common; herb; to 2 m; usually in clumps; outer tepals white, inner white at base; red on edge, yellow on lip.; Specimen data: Herb; 2.0 m erect. Stems green. Leaves pale below. Calyx pale green, corolla bright yellow, papery.
TANZANIA = specimen data: Common herb to ca. 3 m high. Petals white shading to red and yellow at tips. At edge of forest, Geside River, Njokamoni, wet soils with some rocky ground.

This species is common in cultivation. The plant I received in horticulture tagged as C. afer appears to be correctly identified. It blooms both terminally on a leafy stem and at the base.

ACCESSIONS:Click links (if any) to see details of individual collections. R2911- R2942- R3173-

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Photos (if available) of Taxon ID 3430
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Costus afer - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 615 Accession# R0
Costus afer