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

Gingersrus Database Taxon ID 6125

Costus comosus

OLD NAME: Costus comosus - maritimus form

NEW NAME: Costus comosus

NAME CHANGE NOTES: form from Costa Rica like synonym Costus maritimus


STATUS : distinct form

CONTINENT: Neotropical

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Costus comosus (in the form originally described as C. maritimus) grows in Costa Rica on the steep bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It can be found in flower year-round. Costus maritimus by Standley & L.O.Williams was based on a 1950 Paul H. Allen collection on the bluffs of the Golfo Dulce, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. Paul Maas put these plants into synonymy with Costus comosus, however I believe they are distinct enough to retain at least varietal status, if not standing on its own as a separate species.

This form differs from all other forms of Costus comosus. It grows to about 2 meters tall, on thin, straight (not spiraling) stems, and the bracts and their narrow, acute, leafy appendages are mostly green, with just a tinge of red if at all. This form is only known from Costa Rica, and only along the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean from just south of Quepos to the Osa Peninsula and Golfo Dulce. It is also quite common on the Isla del Cańo, about 8 km offshore from Drake. I even found this form growing in leaf mulch on top of a huge boulder on the Pacific coast just south of Drake.

The C. maritimus form of C. comosus has not yet been sampled for DNA, but is planned for inclusion later in a molecular phylogeny to be completed at Cornell University.


I first saw this form during my first trip to Costa Rica in 2005, and I had no idea what species its was. The owner of an eco-resort at the southern tip of Cabo Matapalo, on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica had pointed it out to the famed botanist Reinaldo Aguilar, so we went to see it. A few years I returned there and collected seeds to grow it and place it into cultivation under the cultivar name Costus 'Cliff Dweller'. The cultivar name is based on its habitat which is restricted to the rocky bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Golfo Dulce. I have searched at the top of these bluffs, but these plants grow only on the steep, rocky slopes.

ACCESSIONS:Click links (if any) to see details of individual collections. R3212- R3291- R3292-

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Photos (if available) of Taxon ID 6125
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Costus comosus, maritimus form, photo from Skinner R3208, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 184 Accession# R3208
Costus comosus, maritimus form, photo from Skinner R3208, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica