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

Gingersrus Database Taxon ID 6111

Costus kuntzei


OLD NAME: Costus laevis

NEW NAME: Costus kuntzei

NAME CHANGE NOTES: New name for former C. laevis in Central America and western Colombia and Ecuador

FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME: Costus kuntzei K.Schum.

STATUS : stat. nov.

CONTINENT: Neotropical

FIELD OBSERVATIONS:(If field observations are available, you can click on the link to open in a new window.)
FIELD OBSERVATIONS

PHOTOS:(If photos are available, you can click on the link to open in a new window.)
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SYNONYMS:
- Costus giganteus Kuntze (1891) 687, non Welw. ex Ridley (1887) - Costus splendens Donn.Smith & Von Tuerckheim (1902) - Costus skutchii C.V.Morton (1937)

BOTANICAL NOTES:
Proposed for publication in 2022, the plants from Central America and South America west of the Andes are to be changed from Costus laevis to Costus kuntzei due to a determination that C. laevis Ruis & Pav. was incorrectly interpreted and should be applied to the former C. guanaiensis var. tarmicus occuring in Peru.

This is one of the most common species found in the southern part of Central America where it is currently known as Costus laevis. As explained on the PDF file at the link above in NAME CHANGE NOTES, this error began in 1945 when Robert Woodson published his Flora of Panama and incorrectly determined that the plants in the forms shown on this page are the same as the Peruvian Costus laevis Ruiz & Pavon. We now know that the plants collected by Ruiz and given this name were actually two entirely different species from the kind growing in Central America.

There have been several other names published over the years for this species. The earliest name was in 1891 when Otto Kuntz named a plant he had collected in Costa Rica in 1874 near Puerto Lim├│n on the Atlantic side of the country. He named it Costus giganteus, but that name had already been given four years earlier in 1887 to a different African species, making the Kuntz name invalid, so in 1893 Karl Schumann renamed this species Costus kuntzei. There was another collecton along the Rio Reventaz├│n in Cartago province in 1898 by A. Tonduz, called Costus maximus, a collection in Guatemala in 1907 called Costus splendens, and a collection from the Pacific side of Costa Rica in 1936 called Costus skutchii. These other names are all listed as synonyms.

In 2016 I tracked down the type localities of these collections. For Costus kuntzei, I determined that the general coordinates are 10┬░, -83.2┬░. Baguar - Possibly a corruption of "Pacuare" - is in the city of Lim├│n, but Kuntz does not seem to be giving a specific locality. I have photographed and collected a "gigantic" form of Costus laevis near the town of Shiroles farther south in Caribbean coastal Costa Rica, and I believe that is the form he collected and described. In July 2016 I also visited the type locality of Costus maximus and found a number of plants of this same large form. In 2017 in Alta Verapaz I found a huge plant that I believe to be the form described as Costus splendens, and the following year I found a simlar large-stature plant in Atlantica, Honduras. I believe all these large plants from the Atlantic side of Central America are distinguishable from the smaller Pacific side plants that are represented by Costus skutchii, but currently they are all considered to be in the same species.

Costus kuntzei, as newly described in the forthcoming Revision to New World Costaceae, is usually completely glabrous (without hairs) and flowers terminally on a leafy stem. The bracts are not appendaged and range in colors from solid green (the exposed parts), to dark red (almost purplish-brown), to bright red or a mix of colors. The flowers are adaxially oriented (pointing inward) and have a broad, spreading labellum with red stripes to almost solid red, but with variable corolla colors from red to yellow. Young, non-flowering plants can sometimes be recognized by their leaves, dark green with a silvery stripe down the center on the upper side and with purplish unsides. Another clue to this species is the usual long ligules and petioles - the petioles being purplish like the undersides of the leaves.

A partial 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. DNA has been extracted from three samples of Costus kuntzei - R3135 from Panama, R3086 from Costa Rica (Pacific side skutchii form), and R3035 from Costa Rica (Atlantic side, maximus form). In the molecular phylogeny the 3 samples were tightly clustered in a separate clade close to the clusters of C. wilsonii and C. glaucus. My collection R3086 from Costa Rica was whole genome sequenced in the Chelsea Specht Lab at Cornell University.

HORTICULTURAL NOTES:
Searching under the old name Costus laevis there are 21 botanical gardens world wide reporting this in ex situ cultivation according to BGCI.

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


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Photos (if available) of Taxon ID 6111
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Costus kuntzei Pacific side form, composite photo showing young foliage and ligules - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 242 Accession# R0
Costus kuntzei Pacific side form, composite photo showing young foliage and ligules


Costus kuntzei type specimen - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 495 Accession# R0
Costus kuntzei type specimen


Costus kuntzei type specimen - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 496 Accession# R0
Costus kuntzei type specimen


Costus kuntzei, Atlantic side form,  photo from Skinner R3035, <br>inflorescence<br>From Shiroles, Limon, Costa Rica - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 237 Accession# R3035
Costus kuntzei, Atlantic side form, photo from Skinner R3035,
inflorescence
From Shiroles, Limon, Costa Rica


Costus kuntzei, Atlantic side form,  composite photo from Skinner R3035, <br>showing stature, ligules, and young foliage<br>From Shiroles, Limon, Costa Rica - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 238 Accession# R3035
Costus kuntzei, Atlantic side form, composite photo from Skinner R3035,
showing stature, ligules, and young foliage
From Shiroles, Limon, Costa Rica


Costus kuntzei, Pacific side form, photo from Skinner R3086, from Reserva Durika, Costa Rica - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 240 Accession# R3086
Costus kuntzei, Pacific side form, photo from Skinner R3086, from Reserva Durika, Costa Rica


Costus kuntzei 'Lita Red' form, photo from Skinner R3201, from Lita, Ecuador - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 239 Accession# R3201
Costus kuntzei 'Lita Red' form, photo from Skinner R3201, from Lita, Ecuador


Costus kuntzei, Pacific side form, photo from Skinner R3210, Cabo Matapalo, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 241 Accession# R3210
Costus kuntzei, Pacific side form, photo from Skinner R3210, Cabo Matapalo, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica


Costus kuntzei, C. splendens form, photo from Skinner R3508, from Atlantica, Honduras - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 243 Accession# R3508
Costus kuntzei, C. splendens form, photo from Skinner R3508, from Atlantica, Honduras