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

Gingersrus Database Taxon ID 4047

Costus claviger

OLD NAME: Costus claviger

NEW NAME: Costus claviger


FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME: Costus claviger Benoist

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.)

- Costus bracteatus Gleason (1929) 20, non Rowlee (1922) - Costus guianicus Loes. (1930)

Costus claviger is an accepted neotropical species of Costus first described in 1927 by the French botanist Raymond Benoist (Bull. Mus. Natl. Hist. Nat. 33: 270 (1927). The holotype was collected in French Guiana in 1914 by Benoist and is in the herbarium in Paris. The herbarium sheet for the holotype (the basal flowering plant) has the description: "Fleur jaune striée de rouge en dedans". Locality is not given but this was part of an expedition Guyane Francaise, Mission R. Benoiost 1913-14.

In the revision to be published (hopefully sometime in 2022), we have excluded the "Costus aff. claviger", a terminal flowering Costus that has caused me some confustion in the past. In 1972 Maas stated C. claviger is close to C. guanaiensis and C. juruanus (a species he later changed to C. productus and now is back to C. juruanus). He distinguished it from C. guanaiensis by saying the bract appendages are fragile instead of rigid as in C. guanaiensis. He also said it has yellow-red flowers instead of reddish-white flowers. Further distinguished by having a longer ligule and often reddish leaves. He said C. claviger has two forms: a terminal flowering form from rain forests and varzea forests of Colombia, Brazil and Peru. And a basal flowering form from the Guianas occuring on granitic outcroppings or rarely sand to clay forest floors.

Then in his 1977 monograph, Maas seems to exclude the terminal flowering plants from this species, mentioning only the Guianan basal flowering plant and dividing the whole group into four species as follows:
C. claviger, the basal flowering plant from the Guianas with a truncate to slightly two-lobed ligule 5-15 mm long,
C. erythrophyllus (newly described by Maas in 1976), with deeply lobed ligules 10-38 mm long (seePID3431) ,
C. varzearum (newly described by Maas in 1976), with two-lobed ligules 20-30 mm long (PID3108), and
C. aff. Claviger (not formally described or given a species name) with short truncate ligules 2-5 mm long (PID7425).

In the revision this species will be described as flowering only on a separate, leafless, basal shoot, with green appendaged bracts having a rounded (not acute) apex and flowers with a spreading labellum, yellow with red stripes. The distribution is limited to the three Guianas (French Guiana, Surinam and Guyana) where it flowers in the rainy season. The previously mentioned terminal flowering "C. aff. claviger" it turns out is nothing more than an unusal form of Costus arabicus with appendaged bracts from southwestern Brazil and adjoining Beni, Bolivia.

I first saw Costus claviger in Guayana deep in the Iwokrama mountains and my collection R3219 has been verified as that species. There is a plant growing in the area of Santa Maria de Boyacá, Colombia, that the local botanists have identified as C. claviger, but I disagree. I think it comes closer to C. erythrophyllus.

A molecular phylogeny completed at Cornell University included samples from my Guyana collection and a Maas collection from French Guiana. These samples were well supported in a separate clade close to a Maas collection (also from French Guiana) identified as Costus erythrothyrsus.

Based on information at the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) this species is in ex situ cultivation at 12 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. R2725- R3219-

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Photos (if available) of Taxon ID 4047
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Costus claviger, photo from Maas,  PM 2017 DSC_0477.jpg - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 176 Accession# R0
Costus claviger, photo from Maas, PM 2017 DSC_0477.jpg

Costus claviger type specimen - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 470 Accession# R0
Costus claviger type specimen