Costus comosus – Red Tower Ginger

Costus comosus - Red Tower Ginger, Spiral Ginger

Costus comosus - Red Tower Ginger, Spiral Ginger

Costus comosus - Red Tower Ginger, Spiral Ginger

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Costus comosus

Synonyms: Alpinia comosa, Costus barbatus hort., C. maritimus

Common Names: Red Tower Ginger, Spiral Ginger

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial

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
Subclass: Zingiberidae
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Costaceae – Costus family
Genus: Costus L. – costus
Species: Costus comosus (Jacq.) Roscoe