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

Gingersrus Database Taxon ID 4610

Chamaecostus subsessilis

OLD NAME: Chamaecostus subsessilis

NEW NAME: Chamaecostus subsessilis


FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME: Chamaecostus subsessilis (Nees & Mart.) C.Specht & D.W.Stev.

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 subsessilis Nees & Mart. (1823) - Costus pumilus Petersen in Mart. (1890) - Costus paucifolius L.F.Gagnep. (1902) - Costus rosulifer L.F.Gagnep. (1902) - Costus latifolius L.F.Gagnep. (1902) - Costus pumilus Petersen var. pilosissimus L.F.Gagnep. (1902) - Costus gagnepainii K.Schum. (1904)

Described by P. J. M. Maas in Flora Neotropica. P. J. M. Maas, Flora Neotropica Monograph No. 18 - Previously known as C. warmingii, Maas found it to be identical to a specimen named as Globba subsessilis and thus established Costus subsessilis as the correct name. There were originally 10 separate species described for this plant, but Dr. Maas combined them to one species - Costus warmingii - in 1972, then later changed that to C. subsessilis in 1976 upon discovering the earlier name for the plant. Then in 2015, Thiago André conducted further research of both the morphology and the molecular phylogeny, and concluded that it should be split into two separate species: Chamaecostus subsessilis in the eastern part of Brazil and Chamaecostus acaulis to the west. Please see the data sheet at for details regarding Chamaecostus acaulis. Dr. Paul Maas has not yet decided if he will accept this split and our team working on the revision to new world Costaceae is still reviewing this issue.The separate species Chamaecostus subsessilis grows in the severely seasonally dry cerrado to the Amzonian parts of eastern Bolivia. I found it growing wild in a small forest patch in a city park in Brasilia, Brazil and also very common in Mato Grosso state around Altafloresta and Cristalino. Photos of the plants I found Brasilia are at . It flowers only in the rainy season and goes dormant in the dry season.

While in Alta Floresta, I met up with three university students (Lais Lage, Marcos Jore, & Alam Bilibio) who were introduced to me by Thiago André. They took me to a study plot where they are collecting samples and taking measurements of Chamaecostus subsessilis for several studies they are conducting. The plants there were quite different from the Brasilia plants, similar to the one in cultivation except that the leaves were broader and shorter. Go to

Lais, Thiago, and Ivone Vieira da Silva with the Departamento de Biologia, Universidade do Estado de Mato Grosso, Campus de Alta Floresta are conducting studies of the cellular anatomy of the root tubers of Chamaecostus subsellis. Their article is published in the December 2012 issue of the Heliconia Society International quarterly Bulletin.

I was absolutely amazed when I saw Chamaecostus subsessilis in habitat at Cristalino. Clearly, this species is happiest when growing on or around rocks. I saw it nearly carpeting large rocky outcrops. I saw it growing between and at the base of large boulders. It was absent in areas of the forest floor where there were no rocks. I still need to research to determine for sure, but I was told that the rocks here are a specific type of volcanic conglomerate which may hold moisture during the dry season. I believe these plants were using the spaces between and under these rocks for the tuberous roots to maintain cooler temperatures and moisture during the long hard dry season. More on this later when I describe the Costus spiralis that was growing in the same habitat. I have loaded a thumbnail sheet for the C. subsessilis of Cristalino at

The plants found in cultivation in the USA are reportedly from Bolivia and belong to the separate species Chamaecostus acaulis, not to Chamaecostus subsessilis . BGCI lists accessions at 5 botanical gardens worldwide, but they are all likely to be Chamaecostus acaulis.

ACCESSIONS:Click links (if any) to see details of individual collections. R2839- R3247- R3248- R3251-

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Photos (if available) of Taxon ID 4610
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Chamaecostus subsessilis, Brasilia form, photo from Maas M8660 U0999665 - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 21 Accession# R0
Chamaecostus subsessilis, Brasilia form, photo from Maas M8660 U0999665