Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Curcuma australasica Hook.f.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
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Flowers. © CSIRO
Whole plant, leaves and flowers. © CSIRO
Herbarium specimen. © CSIRO

Hooker, J.D. (1867) Botanical Magazine 93: t. 5620. Type: Mr John Veitch, .. who was the discoverer and means of introducing the present species from its north-east corner (Cape York) into England. The plant here figured flowered in Messrs. Veitchs establishment.

Common name

Cape York lily; Native turmeric; Curcuma


Plant 50 cm tall. Rhizome round to oblong, yellow within.


Leaves tufted. Leaf blades ovate-lanceolate, glabrous, 16-45 x 9-19 cm, petioles 3-21.5 cm long. Stipules 7-9 cm long. Leaf sheaths prominent with winged margins.


Inflorescence cylindrical, 15-32 cm tall and 6 cm diameter at the top. Flowers ca. 15 mm diam. subtended by pink, slightly hairy sterile bracts 35 x 25 mm and bracteoles 15-19 mm long. Fertile bracts green, fleshy. Calyx tube 9-11 mm long open on one side. Corolla tube 22-30 mm long. Three outer lobes, thin and translucent, three inner lobes yellow, larger than the outer petals. Anthers 4-6 mm long, spurred at each end. Anthers sessile or on petal-like filaments 9 x 5 mm. Pollen white. Lateral staminodes not folded behind stamen. Ovary 2-3 mm long. Style 40 mm long. Ovules numerous.


Capsule within persistent inflorescence bracts, with top third pubescent.


Features not available.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in the NT, CYP and NEQ to just south of Cairns. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 550 m. Grows at the edges of rainforest, in Eucalypt forest, vine forest and in woodland.

Natural History & Notes

Rhizome cooked and eaten.

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