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Costus Species Botanical Description Botanical Description page for GingersRus plant database number " 3601 ".
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Costus laevis

Costus laevis Ruiz & Pav.

Accession # R2247 identified as Costus laevis from Le Jardin Ombragé
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Photo# 17981 Specimen# R0
Costus laevis description by Ruiz in Flora Peruviana et Chilensis

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Photo# 17982 Specimen# R0
Matching description to photos of Cuchero plant

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Photo# 16731 Specimen# R0
Costus laevis holotype at Barcelona, Spain herbarium, bract detail (hidden by leaves)

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Photo# 16730 Specimen# R0
Costus laevis holotype at Barcelona, Spain herbarium, ligule and petiole detail

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Photo# 17983 Specimen# R0
Holotype matching to C. aff. spiralis plants

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Photo# 17984 Specimen# R0
Google map of area explored by Ruiz

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Photo# 17985 Specimen# R0
Untitled Illustration by Jose Gabriel Rivera

BOTANICAL NAME: Costus laevis
GROUP:2-bracts not appendaged
PRIMARY SOURCE USED FOR DESCRIPTION:Maas, Flora Neotropica No. 8, 1972
SECONDARY SOURCES:Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica Vol II, 2003, Missouri Botanical Garden
NOTES AND DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS:Photos #10987-89 were taken in 2000 at Moody Gardens were confirmed by Dr. Maas as Costus laevis. It was collected in El Valle, Panama by Gary Outenreath of Moody Gardens, Galveston, Texas. I saw a similar plant in the greenhouses at Atlanta Botanic Garden, their specimen received from Duke Univ. (#86-043). Since then I have seen many, many of these plants both in cultivation and in the wild in Costa Rica.

It is distintive by its silvery costa and dark grey-green upper leaves. Maas does not mention this in his description, but the flower parts generally match the description. Maas says this plant is quite variable. My own specimen (#R4277), shown in the other pictures to the left, was collected in Panama in the hills above Almirante. The bracts are a different color, but otherwise it appears to be the same species. The primary difference in my specimen is that it has long, lobed ligules rather than short truncate ones - a characteristic that is used in his identification key. Many other specimens I have seen have long lobed ligules. Maas indicates that this species is quite variable in appearance so I do not know for certain.
NATURAL DISTRIBUTION:Central America, w. South America from Colombia to Bolivia, rain forests, often in clearings, riverbank forests or swamps from 500 to 1700 meters.
HEIGHT:0 to 6 meters
Botanical Description for this Species
For illustrations or explanation of terminology, click on the linked plant part or column header.
Descriptions used for plant identification key are shown in BOLD.
Plant PartGeneralColorHairsTextureShape LengthWidth

0 to 0 cm0 to 0 cm

glabrous to sparsely strigulose or villose

0 to 0 cm 10 to 20 mm
Liguleshort, 1-15 mm


obliquely truncate
5 to 15 mm 0 to 0 mm

glabrous, rarely sparsely sericeous

long petiolate
5 to 20 mm 0 to 0 mm
Leaf very large, costa often strigulose

narrowly ovate to narrowly obovate
15 to 50 cm 4 to 16 cm

glabrous, rarely puberulous


glabrous, rarely puberulous


cuneate, sometimes rounded or cordate


long acuminate
0 to 30 mm
Inflorescence Either terminal on a separate leafy stem or rarely on a leafless shoot to 50 cm tall. Elongating to 25 cm long and 9 cm wide in fruit.

broadly cylindric to ovoid
5 to 10 cm 3 to 7 cm
Bract not velutinous, callus yellowish to 15 mm long.
green (exposed part) to yellowish green

thick, coriaceous
broadly ovate, obtuse
2.5 to 5.0 cm 3.0 to 4.5 cm
Appendage none

0.0 to 0.0 cm 0.0 to 0.0 cm

glabrous to rather densely puberulous

boat shape
2.0 to 3.0 cm 0.0 to 0.0 cm

0 to 0 cm 0 to 0 cm
Calyx 6-8 mm

glabrous to rather densely puberulous

deltate to shallowly triangular
0.6 to 1.5 cm 0.0 to 0.0 cm
Corolla tube 15-25 mm long
yellowish to reddish white

lobes narrowly obovate
5.0 to 7.5 cm 0.0 to 0.0 cm
Labellum distinct spreading limb, lateral lobes purple-red with yellow venation, or sometimes white to yellow without any venation, middle lobe recurved 3-5 lobes, blotched with yellow in the center.
yellow, dark purplish striped

broadly obovate
5.0 to 7.0 cm 4.0 to 5.5 cm
Stamen anther 6-12 mm long
apex reddish

narrowly elliptic, apex reflexed
3.5 to 5.0 cm 1.0 to 1.3 cm

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