Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Curcuma longa L.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)

Linnaeus, C. (1753) Species Plantarum 1: 2. Type: Habitat in India.


Plants ca. 1 m tall. Rhizomes many branched, orange or bright yellow, cylindric, aromatic; roots tuberous at tip.


Leaves tufted. Petiole 20-45 cm long; leaf blade green, oblong or elliptic, 30-65(-90) × 9-21 cm, glabrous, midrib prominent on abaxial surface, base attenuate, apex shortly acuminate.


Inflorescences terminal on pseudostems; peduncle 12-20 cm; spike cylindric, 12-18 × 4-9 cm; fertile bracts pale green, ovate or oblong, 3-5 cm, apex obtuse; coma bracts spreading, white and green, sometimes tinged reddish purple, apex acute. Calyx white, 0.8-1.2 cm, puberulent, apex unequally 3-toothed. Corolla pale yellow; tube to 3 cm long; lobes deltoid, 1-1.5 cm, central one larger, apex mucronate. Lateral staminodes shorter than labellum. Labellum yellowish with central, yellow band, obovate, 1.2-2 cm. Anther spurred at base. Ovary sparsely hairy.


Thin-walled, sparsely hairy capsule.


Features not available.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs on the Torres Strait Islands and near Coen in CYP. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 160 m. Occasionally naturalised near habitation.

Natural History & Notes

The root is used as a carminative and stimulant, also used as an colouring agent (Webb 1948).

The root used as a source of tumeric (Smith 1987).

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