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

Gingersrus Database Taxon ID 7289

Costus atlanticus 'Tropicais'

OLD NAME: Costus atlanticus 'Tropicais'

NEW NAME: Costus atlanticus 'Tropicais'

NAME CHANGE NOTES: Very popular cultivar from Brazil, published as Costus atlanticus, possible species or natural hybrid.


STATUS : registered cultivar

CONTINENT: Neotropical

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Below is a history of my acquisition of this cultivar and our attempts to classify it. It is now published as a new species Costus atlanticus (see under PID 7791) but there is still some doubt. I have seen hundreds of Inaturalist observations of this form but all of them have been from urban/suburban areas and none confirmed to be growing in the wild. There is still some question as to whether this form is a true species or simply a hybrid that has gained popularity in Brazil.

To Paul & Hiltje Maas: I received the spent inflo. cone today from the lady in Texas, but I am not sure I have enough of the plant to make a herbarium specimen that would be of any use to you. I did break it down and examined and measured the bracts, bracteoles and calyx, and took close-up photos that I could send. The plant does not appear to be mature as you would find in the wild - the sheaths only 8 mm in diameter. Ligules from 4-8 mm long, truncate, petioles 6-8 mm long and 3-4 mm wide, all glabrous and medium green in color. The leaves measured from 11-19 cm long and 4-8.5 cm wide, green and glabrous both side, with no indument along the costa or margins or elsewhere. Base cuneate to cordate, apex acute to shortly acuminate, acumen barely 1 mm long. The bracts are glabrous, coreaceous, ovate, margins entire, reddish green - deeper red in the covered parts, green callus about 8 mm long, and bracts measuring 3.3-3.5 cm long by 3.2 cm wide. Bracteoles dark red, boat shaped, glabrous, all 2.5 cm long and 0.5 cm wide. Calyxthe same dark red color, glabrous except for a few hairs at the junction with the ovary, 1.5 cm long and 0.8 cm wide. I do not have the flowers, but from the pictures they appear nearly pure white, corolla lobes and labellums, with just a tint of pink on the lateral lobes and yellow in the throat. The labellum lobes are not spread very wide. I am attaching the picture again for your convenience and ready reference.

From Hiltje Maas: The Costus concerned has some characters of C. arabicus (long calyx, cordate leafbase) but also of C. spiralis (shape and orientation of the flower, and textuere of the leaves). May be a hybrid? Paul & Hiltje Maas

I have named this plant Costus 'Tropicais' after the internet name used by Jackie. This plant has characters of C. spiralis and C. arabicus. It grows to about 2 meters but can flower on stems 1 meter tall. Vegetative parts are glabrous, ligule is truncate, 10 mm, leaf base slightly cordate. Bracts are red, non-appendaged, bracteole 25 mm, calyx 20 mm. Flower is pale pink and extends at 0 degrees from bract, labellum intermediate between tubular and spreading, white to pale pink with yellow throat. Stamen pink to white at apex, apex is rounded, entire.

A specimen was found at NTBG 990327 Rec'vd by NTBG in 1999 as rhizomes from Waimea Arboretum collection # 80p662, parent was not wild source. Rec'vd from Gardner Waters ("#1"), California. "From a U. S. Nursery"…no other data. Thiis plant looks very much like the plant I am calling 'Tropicais'. NTBG had it tagged as Costus arabicus.

Cultivar Registry Photo at Cultivar published in the Heliconia Society Quarterly Bulletin, Vol. 20, No. 1, March, 2014.


Jackie Petrov: I just talked to my aunt in Brazil. She said one of her relatives bought the plant at a nursery in Belo Horizonte. State of Minas Gerais. They were selling some medicinal plants and they said to use this costus for kidney ailments. You boil the leaves and stem and drink the tea. She has no idea what part of Brazil it originally came from. Oh well that's all I know. Jackie

I am going to call your Costus by a cultivar name since Dr. Maas was unable to determine a species for it. Paul Maas has been studying Costus since the early 70's. The Maas' are the ultimate authority on Costus, have written all the Costus monographs for the Central and South American species and have named 25 or so new species they found in their research. If they can't pin it to a certain species no one can. I am going to call it Costus 'Tropicais' in my records.

ACCESSIONS:Click links (if any) to see details of individual collections. R2907-

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Photos (if available) of Taxon ID 7289