Costus comosus – Red Tower Ginger
Scientific Name: Costus comosus
Synonyms: Alpinia comosa, Costus barbatus hort., C. maritimus
Common Names: Red Tower Ginger, Spiral Ginger
Growth Habit: Herb/Forb
Hawaii Native Status: Cultivated. This ornamental garden plant is native to Central and South America.
Flower Color: Bright yellow. The more conspicuous floral bracts are red.
Height: 3 to 8 feet (0.9 to 2.4 m) tall
Description: The yellow flowers emerge a few at a time from between waxy, shiny, red, spirally-arranged, down-curved floral bracts on large, pinecone-shaped inflorescences at the stem tips. The individual flowers remain almost closed and resemble flower buds. The leaves are green, glossy above, fuzzy below, spirally arranged, drooping, and narrowly elliptic to oblanceolate in shape. The fleshy, cane-like stems emerge from underground rhizomes and are erect to arching. The plants are somewhat corn-like in appearance.
The showy inflorescences make long lasting cut flowers in tropical flower arrangements.
The similar Indonesian Wax Ginger (Tapeinochilos ananassae) has much smaller yellow flowers and the plants are more bamboo-like than corn-like.
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
Family: Costaceae – Costus family
Genus: Costus L. – costus
Species: Costus comosus (Jacq.) Roscoe