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

Gingersrus Database Taxon ID 7847

Costus pictus (patterned stem form)

OLD NAME: Costus pictus form with patterned stems

NEW NAME: Costus pictus (patterned stem form)

NAME CHANGE NOTES: believed to be the form of the type from Veracruz, Mexico, with patterned stems.


STATUS : distinct form

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 form of Cosus pictus is distinguished by the markings on the lower sheaths and the habit of flowering either atop a leafy stem or below on a leafless or nearly leafless shoot - sometimes both ways on the same plant. It is exemplified by the registered cultivar Costus 'Hieroglyphics' that was introduced in the trade by Stokes Tropicals.

This is very likely the form that was collected by Deppe in Veracruz, Mexico and serves as the type for the species. I found this form growing in Veracruz near the Cascada Jeam Takxi just south of the town of Soteapan. It was not in flower but I recognized it as Costus pictus immediately based on the pattern on the lower sheaths and the narrow, wavy leaves. I have cultivated this in my garden (R3453) and brought it to flower where it thus far has produced inflorescences only terminally on leafy shoots about 2 meters tall.

I also saw it in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala where it was growing closer to 3 meters tall and produced both basal and terminal inflorescences. In another trip I found it to be common in Atlantíca, Honduras where it grows to just 1 meter tall and produces both basal and terminal inflorescences.

The commonly cultivated form probably has several original sources. The Stokes Tropicals cultivar was received from someone in Costa Rica by Glenn Stokes, but the wild origin is unknown. There is also at Waimea Arboretum a cultivated plant that was received in 1984 from the USDA Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Miami, Florida. There is the notation that this plant was "collected by Jack Reark in the Black Creek Area of Belize."

It is difficult to recognize this specific pattern on the many Inaturalist observations found in Mesoamerica because the observers seldom show photos of the lower sheaths that distinguish it. Further research is needed to determine the range of this form in nature and how it relates to the other "Atlantic side" forms of Costus pictus.


ACCESSIONS:Click links (if any) to see details of individual collections. R3453- R3507-

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Photos (if available) of Taxon ID 7847