Cheilocostus speciosus has a large number of common names in many languages, including isebsab (Palauan); keu, kemuk or keumul (Bengali); keukand (Hindi); thebu (Sinhala); pakarmula (Gujarati); pushkarmula (Marathi and Sanskrit); jom lakhuti (Assamese); kostam (Tamil); Kosta (Kannada); Kostamu (Telugu); Okchak Khombi (Manipur) sumbul (Mizo); setawar (Malay).
Cheilocostus speciosus, or crêpe ginger, is a species of flowering plants in the family Costaceae. Some botanists have now revived the synonym Hellenia speciosa for this species. It is native to southeast Asia and surrounding regions, from India to China to Queensland, It is especially common on the Greater Sunda Islands in Indonesia. It is also reportedly naturalized in Mauritius, Réunion, Fiji, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Belize, Melanesia, Micronesia, and the West Indies. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental. The plant has many historical uses in Ayurveda, where the rhizome has been used to treat fever, rash, asthma, bronchitis, and intestinal worms. It is mentioned in the Kama Sutra as an ingredient in a cosmetic to be used on the eyelashes to increase sexual attractiveness. It is used to treat kidney problems and other urinary problems in Mizo Traditional Medicine. It was used as a traditional medicine by Malays when evil spirits have possessed a body, as well as for the treatment of high fever, smallpox and as a purgative.
Costus plants are pretty plants related to ginger that produce a stunning flower spike, one per plant. While these plants require a warm climate, they can also be enjoyed in containers that can be brought indoors in the winter in colder climates. Cheilocostus speciosus and other members of the Costaceae differ from gingers by having only one row of spirally arranged leaves. The species reproduces vegetatively by rhizome, and birds disperse the seeds when they feed on the fruits.
This plant is cultivated in South Asia and Southeast Asia for its medicinal uses, and is cultivated elsewhere as an ornamental. In some areas Cheilocostus speciosus is introduced and has become an invasive species. The habitat where this species is found is roadside ditches and low-lying areas in tropical forests. Flowering starts after onset of the rainy season.
Varieties of Costus The costus plants come in several varieties. Most common is Costus speciosus, also known as crepe ginger. The name describes the crepe-like, pale pink flowers. Crepe ginger is one of the tallest varieties of costus. Costus varzeareanum is an interesting addition to the garden. Its purple leaf undersides provide color and interest even when the plant is not flowering. Another variety, Costos productus, grows lower than other types of costus. It also has edible, sweet-tasting flowers. You will also find many other varieties of costus when searching for crepe ginger and its relatives. There are multiple cultivars as well, which include different colors of flowers, like yellow, chocolate brown, pink, red, orange, and everything in between. How to Grow Costus Plants Growing costus crepe ginger and other varieties of this subtropical to tropical plant is not hard if you have the right conditions and costus plant information. These plants need warmth and will not tolerate much frost. They do need to be kept drier in the winter, though. Fertilize and keep them moist in the spring. All varieties of costus are well suited to partial shade and morning light. With more sun, these plants need more water. Regardless of location, they should be well watered at all times. Soil should be light and needs to drain well. Pests and diseases are not major issues for costus plants.
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