Curcuma Taxonomy

Curcuma belong to the ginger family Zingiberaceae, which includes many useful herbs and ornamental plants. The spice, ginger (from Zingiber officinalis), is the best known and most widely used. Important ornamental cousins include Alpinia (Shell Ginger), and Kaempferia (torch-ginger). The gingers are more distantly related to other common ornamental plants such as Musa (bananas), Heliconia, Canna, and Maranta. All Zingiberaceae share a common trait in that their flowers produce just one true stamen.

The genus Curcuma consists of between 80 and 117 species of medium-sized plants. Their center of diversity is in southeast Asia, but some species extend to the Himalayas, Southern China, Australia and the Pacific Islands. The name Curcuma was coined by Carl Linnaeus and refers to the Arabic word "kurkum" which is their name for the yellowish color of the root.

Curcuma are commonly known by a number of common names, including turmeric, Indian saffron, Siam tulip, zedoary, and hidden lily. The first two names refer to its use as a spice and the name "hidden lily" refers to the fact that some species have short inflorescences that are obscured by the leaves. [1]


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