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

Gingersrus Database Taxon ID 7575

Costus 'Firebird'

OLD NAME: Costus 'Firebird'

NEW NAME: Costus 'Firebird'

NAME CHANGE NOTES: Believed to be a natural hybrid, cultivated in South Florida


STATUS : registered cultivar

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.)


This plant was originally received in 2003 tagged as Costus comosus, and indeed it has some characters of that species. I received a division of the plant from Linda Gay with Mercer Arboretum in Houston, and she had received it from Tom Wood. It grew well and flowered beautifully, but then declined and after growing it for several years I have lost it.

I also received some photos recently from a contact at a nursery in South Florida who had once received the same plant from Tom Wood. When I started reviewing my own photos of the flower details I suddenly realized that this plant has the SAME BICARINATE (TWO-KEELED) BRACTEOLE as Costus osae. This character is only recorded in two species of Costus - C. osae and C. ricus. All others have a single keeled bracteole, shaped like a canoe whereas those two species have the two-keeled bracteole more like a flat bottom boat and the bracteole wraps around the calyx.

I contacted Tom Wood to find out the origin of the plant and he told me that his records only show receiving it from Fairchild Gardens, or possibly Flamingo Gardens from David Bar-Zvi (who worked both places).

Based on the bicarinate bracteole and the similarity of the vegetative parts - nearly identical to Costus osae - I have now concluded this is most likely a hybrid of C. osae with C. comosus - both of which have been cultivated in South Florida for many years. I am giving this plant a cultivar name of 'Firebird' for the red and yellow flames of the inflorescence and the wing-like bracts.

Cultivar description: A key character distinguishing this cultivar is the bicarinate bracteole like Costus osae, but with bright yellow instead of reddish flowers. This plant looks almost exactly like Costus osae until it flowers. Stems and leaves are soft and hairy, leaves light green, ligule very short, plant grows to about 1/2 meter tall. The inflorescence is entirely different having characters of Costus comosus with red triangular bracts, only lower bracts with appendages, and with yellow tubular flowers that extend well beyond the bracts.

Cultivar Registry Photo at Cultivar published in the Heliconia Society Quarterly Bulletin, Vol. 20, No. 2, June, 2014.


ACCESSIONS:Click links (if any) to see details of individual collections. R2830-

Copyright © 1999-2023 - Dave Skinner,
All text and images on this page are copyrighted. They may be downloaded and/or printed for personal use and scientific research, but may not be published in paper or electronic media without my express consent. They absolutely may not be used commercially in any way whatsoever without my express consent. To inquire about permissions, contact

Photos (if available) of Taxon ID 7575