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

Gingersrus Database Taxon ID 3608

Costus spectabilis

OLD NAME: Costus spectabilis

NEW NAME: Costus spectabilis


FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME: Costus spectabilis (Fenzl) K.Schum.

STATUS : accepted


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- Costus pistiifolius K.Schum. (1892) - Cadalvena dalzielii C.H.Wright (1912)

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,

The African Plant Database lists this species as accepted. Biology : Perennial herb with a rhizome covered in brown papery scales, hairy in their lower half Ecology : Rocky savanna; black soil in Oxytenanthera thicket with some Combretum-Terminalia woodland; in shade on sandy soil in open Combretum-Terminalia or Isoberlinia woodland; elsewhere in seasonal grassland; often around termitaria; among rocks; 150-1850 m alt. Sometimes cultivated as an ornamental, but not particularly easy. S. Tome.

TAXONOMY NOTES BY BRIAN MIDDLEDITCH - Costus spectabilis P.J.M. Maas:First named Cadalvena spectabilis Fenzl (1865), not to be confused with Cadalvena spectabilis C.H. Wright (1905) - which has been combined with Costus macranthus Schumann (1901). Schumann (1904) decided that Cadalvena is a subgenus of Costus, and the species had already been renamed Costus spectabilis (Fenzl) Schumann (1893). In the meantime, for a few years, it was Kaempferia spectabilis (Fenzl) Benth. (1883). Costus spectabilis Zipp. (from an undated manuscript in the Leyden Herbarium) is Tapeinochilos spectabile (Zipp.) Schumann (1899). Then there are other synonyms, including Costus pistifolius (Fenzl) Schumann (1892) and Cadalvena pistifolia (Schumann) Baker (1898).

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

Cadalvena spectablilis - Flora of Tropical Africa, 1898 - describes this species, Cadalvena listed as separate genus, distinguishes C. spectabilis from C. pistiaefolia, imbricated leaves NOT thickened at base.
"1. C. spectabilis, Fenzl in Sitz. Akad. Wissen. Wien, Math. Nat.Li. Abth.ii. 140. Leaves usually 4 in a spiral rosette, obovate-cuneate,much imbricated, 2-8 in. long and broad, pale green, membranous,glabrous, not thickened at the base. Flowers few, on short pedicels.From the centre of the rosette, contemporary with the leaves. CalyxShort, funnel-shaped. Corolla-lobes lanceolate, ascending, 1 1/2-2 in. long.Lip pale yellow, obovate-cuneate, 3 in. long 1 1/2-2 in. broad; fertilestamen sborter than the corolla-lobes; anther-cells llearly parallel,1/2 in. long, overtopped by a long pale yellow strap-shaped petaloid process.-Kaempferia spectabilis, Benth. Gen. Plant. Iii. 642. Costusspectabilis, Schumann in Engl. Jahrb. Xv. 422, and in Engl. Pfl Ost-Afr. C. 150.
Nile Land. UpperSeuaar; Fazokl,Boriana; Jur; JurGhattas, Schweinfurth,1888! Galabat: banks of the GendnaRiver, Schweinfurth,1345!Lower Guinea.. Congo: Loukoungou,700-2000 ft., Hens, 353!
Mozamb. Dist. German East Africa:Usambara, Holst! Portuguese EastAfrica: MorambalaMountain, 2000--3000 ft., Kirk! Waller! British CentralAfrica: Nyasaland; Shire Highlands, Buchanan, 26! Near Blantyre, Last! MountSochi, Scott Elliot, 8521! Between Lake Tanganyika and Lake Nyasa,Johnston!And without precise locality, Buchanan,532! 668!

Flora of West Tropical Africa, (1936) - listed, wide distribution.

P. J. M. Maas mentions this plant (but does not include a description) in Flora Neotropica Monograph No. 8. He says it is from Africa and is part of his subgenus Cadalvena. It is listed by him as Costus spectabilis (Fenzl) Schumann, and he says it is the type species for subgenus Cadalvena.

This species is sometimes found in cultivation and is the only African species (other than its sister species Costus macranthus) in the family Costaceae that is deciduous, and will go completely dormant at the end of its growing season, surviving by root tubers deep underground. In my experience these tubers are susceptible to rotting if allowed to remain very wet during the plant's dormancy. They also reach deep underground and can be difficult to grow well in containers.

ACCESSIONS:Click links (if any) to see details of individual collections. R2265- R2934-

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Photo# 636 Accession# R0
Costus spectabilis