Costus spectabilis 

This taxon is accepted by WCS higher taxonomy

General Description

Herb with a rosette of about 4 suborbicular fleshy leaves spread flat on the ground; flowers bright orange or yellow; in rocky savanna.

Perennial herb. Rhizome 2-3 mm. in diameter when dry; scales brown, scarious, appressed pilose in their lower half. Leafy stem borne laterally on the rhizome, erect, bearing several reduced leaves and 4 (occasionally 3) broadly spathulate normal leaves, imbricate, cruciately arranged, and lying flat on the ground. Lamina of normal leaves 4-12 cm. broad and long, obtuse to retuse at apex, cuneate at base, glabrous above, appressed pubescent beneath particularly on the midrib, green with a pink or sometimes brownish margin. Inflorescence terminal, arising in the centre of the leaf-rosette, 6-12-flowered, usually with only 1 flower open at any one time; floral bracts delicate, triangular, 1.7 × 0.8 cm. Corolla-tube 2.5-4.5 cm. long; petals 3, yellow, narrowly ovate, acuminate, glabrous, or pubescent at the apex, 2.0-4.5 cm. long; labellum large, delicate, yellow, 2-5 cm. long. Fertile stamen ligulate, petaloid, narrowed above the anther; anther-thecae 4.5-7 mm. long. Fruit subterranean, poorly known; seeds unknown. Fig. 1/3-6.


; in rocky savanna.

HAB. Grassland, wooded grassland and deciduous woodland, often around termitaria or among rocks; 150-1850 m.


Kenya Kitale area, June 1939, Webster in E.A.H. 9395!

Tanzania Kasekela [Kasakela] Reserve, 20 Nov. 1962, Verdcourt 3383E!

Sen.: Tambacounda Berhaut 3150! Patako Trochain 3900!

Uganda top of escarpment near Sonso R., May 1941, Eggeling 4306!

Guin.: Botala, near Kankan (July) Collenette 80!

W. Cam.: Ndop Plain (Mar.) Brunt 280! Mildbr. 8954!

Kenya Broderick Falls, Apr. 1939, Tweedie 445!

Tanzania Chapota, 3 Dec. 1949, Bullock 1997!

S. Nig.: Obudu Plateau, 3, 000-5, 000 ft. Stone 88!

N. Nig.: Sokoto Prov. (June) Dalz. 560! Damau, Anchau Dist. (June) Ogua FHI 7842! Zaranda Mt., 5, 800 ft. (May) Lely 198! Vom Dent Young 239! Keana Hepburn 48! Kolba, Yola (July) Dalz. 229!

Tanzania Segoma Forest Reserve, 14 Mar. 1969, Faulkner 4209!

Uganda Koboko, May 1938, Hazel 536!

Uganda Buruli, near Nakasongola, Apr. 1931, Sanford in Snowden 2059!

Mali: Kita Paroisse 34!

S. L.: Gberia Timbako, Sulima (June) Bakshi 223! Kafuru Dawe 498!

Ghana: Gambaga (June) Akpabla 663! Shiare to Chilinga Nkwanta Hills (May) Morton A3965!

Iv. C.: Gouéhouma, Haute Sassandra Chev. 21659.


in E.J. 15: 422 (1892) & in E.P. IV. 46: 421 (1904); F.P.S. 3:254 (1956); F.W.T.A., ed. 2, 3: 78 (1968); U.K.W.F.: 671, fig. (1974); Lock in K.B. 39: 841, map 1 (1984).

in Engl., Bot. Jahrb. 15: 422 (1892), and in Engl., Pflanzenr. 4, 46: 421; F.W.T.A., ed. 1, 2: 334; Berhaut, Fl. Sén. 62; Koechlin in Fl. Gabon 9: 65, t. 13, and in Fl. Cam. 4: 75 t. 15.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Africa East Tropical Africa Kenya
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Northeast Tropical Africa Chad
  • Ethiopia
  • Sudan
  • South Tropical Africa Angola
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
  • West Tropical Africa Benin
  • Burkina
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Ivory Coast
  • Mali
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Togo
  • West-Central Tropical Africa Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Congo
  • Gabon
  • Gulf of Guinea Is.
  • Zaire


  • 1 Figueiredo, E., Paiva, J., Stévart, T., Oliveira, F. & Smith, G.F. (2011). Annotated catalogue of the flowering plants of São Tomé and Príncipe. Bothalia 41: 41-82.
  • 2 Fischer, E., Rembold, K., Althof, A. & Obholzer, J. (2010). Annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Kakamega forest, Western province, Kenya. Journal of East African Natural History 99: 129-226.
  • 3 Masharabu, T., Bigendako, M.J., Lejoly, J., Nkengurutse, J., Noret, N., Bizuru, E. & Bogaert, J. (2010). Etude analytique de la flore et de la végétation du Parc National de la Ruvubu, Burundi. International Journal of Biological and Chemical Sciences 4: 834-856.
  • 4 Timberlake, J.R. & Martins, E.S. (eds.) (2010). Flora Zambesiaca 13(4): 1-151. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • 5 Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (eds.) (2006). Flore Analytique du Bénin: 1-1034. Backhuys Publishers.
  • 6 Catarino, L., Sampaio Martins, E., Pinto-Basto, M.F. & Diniz, M.A. (2006). Plantas Vasculares e Briófitos da Guiné-Bissau: 1-298. Instituto de investigação científica tropical, Instituto Português de apoio ao desenvolvimento.
  • 7 Sosef, M.S.M. & al. (2006). Check-list des plantes vasculaires du Gabon. Scripta Botanica Belgica 35: 1-438.
  • 8 Sita, P. & Moutsambote, J.-M. (2005). Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Congo , ed. sept. 2005: 1-158. ORSTOM, Centre de Brazzaville.
  • 9 Govaerts, R. (1999). World Checklist of Seed Plants 3(1, 2a & 2b): 1-1532. Continental Publishing, Deurne.
  • 10 Brunel, J.F., Hiepo, P. & Scholz, H. (eds.) (1984). Flore Analytique du Togo Phanérogames: 1-751. GTZ, Eschborn.
  • 11 F.n. Hepper (1968) Zingiberaceae. Flora of West Tropical Africa 3 (1)

 Information From

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa. Published on the Internet;
Flora of West Tropical Africa
Flora of West Tropical Africa. Published on the Internet;
WCS higher taxonomy
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World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved 2011 onwards
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