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Curcuma

Phonetic Spelling
kur-KYOO-mah
Description

Curcuma is a genus of mostly tropical herbaceous perennials that have large Canna-like foliage and pine cone-shaped flowers. Depending on the species the flowers may emerge before the foliage, and in other species, the foliage may emerge first. The plant size can range from 2 to over 7 feet tall. 

There are 100 different species of Curcuma. Some of the plants may be used as food and dyes, while others are only ornamental. They are all members of the Zingiberaceae or ginger family. The species include Curcuma amada (Mango Ginger), Curcuma angustifolia (Wild Arrowroot), Curcuma aromatica (Wild Turmeric), Curcuma longa (Common Turmeric), and Curcuma zedoaria (Zedoary).

The different species are native to parts of Southern China, Southeast Asia, India, Northern Australia, or New Guinea. Some of the species have been naturalized in Florida, Central America, tropical Africa, and the tropical islands of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.

The genus name, Curcuma, is Latin, from the Arabic word "kurkum or saffron." It acquired the name because the color of the plant's rhizome spice resembles saffron.

Some species of this genus prefer full sun and afternoon shade, while others prefer shade. They require moist, well-drained soil, and wind protection. The USDA Hardiness Zone ranges from 8-11. In areas where the plant is not winter hardy, they may be grown as annuals. The plants can suffer injury in temperatures below 50 degrees F.  It is recommended that the rhizomes be removed from the soil in the fall and stored in a cool dry location. When planting the rhizomes, they needed to be planted at a depth of 4 inches. Each of the species is reproduced by rhizomes.

The leaves are broad and measuring 18 to 40 inches long and 5 to 6 inches wide. The foliage may be green, variegated with creamy edges, or have a reddish-purple stripe down the center of the leaf. The flowers are spike-like and are available in a variety of colors including pink, orange, yellow, and white, depending on the species. The flowers may bloom from late spring to early summer. Each species has food storage in its rhizomes. Curcuma plants rarely have seeds that are viable and are reproduced from their rhizomes.

This genus of plants is easy to grow and requires little maintenance. They may be planted in shade gardens, wet gardens, tropical gardens, containers, or as houseplants.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#cultivars#showy flowers#showy leaves#low maintenance#spring flowers#tropical perennials#ornamentals#rhizomatous#humidity tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#cultivars#showy flowers#showy leaves#low maintenance#spring flowers#tropical perennials#ornamentals#rhizomatous#humidity tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Curcuma
    Family:
    Zingiberaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Tropical & Subtropical Asia to North Australia
    Distribution:
    Native: Southern China, Southeast Asia, India, Northern Australia, and New Guinea; Introduced: Florida, Central America, tropical Africa, and the tropical islands of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Easy to Grow
    Bulb Storage:
    When container-grown, keep planting medium slightly moist and store at 55-60 degrees F (13-16 degrees C)
    Edibility:
    Some species are used in foods while other species are ornamental.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 6 in. - 7 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Herb
    Perennial
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Description:
    Seeds are rarely produced and are typically not viable. Common Turmeric seeds are small, brown, and ovoid.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    3-6 inches
    Flower Description:
    The flowers come in a variety of colors depending on the species or cultivar. The flowers have been described as "technicolor pinecones." Depending on the species, the flower may bloom before the foliage emerges. In other species, the foliage emerges first. The flower spike can appear on a pseudo stem or a stem directly from the rhizome.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Sheath
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Depending on the species, the leaves may be solid green, variegated, or have a central red blotch. They appear large in size and Canna-like. The leaves are smooth, lanceolate to oblong in shape with entire margins. Depending on the species, the leaves can measure from 18 to 40 inches long and 5-6 inches wide.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Landscape Theme:
    Asian Garden
    Cutting Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Specimen
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Humidity
    Problems:
    Contact Dermatitis