Curcuma Morphology

Curcuma is a deciduous herbaceous perennial with thick, fleshy, branched rhizomes. Their "stems" are not true stems, but actually pseudostems, because they are composed of long, succulent, interlocked leaf petioles from which the leaves arise. Pseudostems with clasping leaves are common in this group of plants and can also be seen in both canna and bananas (Musa, Musella, Ensete). All the genera in the family Zingiberaceae have food storage rhizomes with a "gingery" or "lemony" scent. The leaves, which are similar to a canna, can be solid green, variegated, or have a red central blotch. Curcuma have flower spikes that arise from the top of the pseudostem or sometimes on a separate stem directly from the rhizome. Flowering may occur early in the growing season, just before the leaves unfurl or along with them late in the growing season, depending on the species. The bracts near the top of the spike are colorful and showy, but do not have florets. The florets are held lower down on the spike amongst less-showy bracts. Like poinsettias, the actual flowers are not the featured attraction. The florets are white, yellow, pink or orange in color and the bracts can be a variety of colors including white, pink, yellow, green, burgundy, or multicolored. The overall effect is that of a technicolored pinecone. Curcuma need heat to trigger flowering and thus do well in warm climates such as the Southeast US. In mild climates (like Great Britain) Curcuma may grow well but never bloom. Although Curcuma come from warm parts of the world, they go through a dormant period in which the plants die bto the rhizome

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith